How Telehealth Can Be Used in Treating ADHD in Children

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telehealth services increased dramatically. By March 2020, it jumped by 154% compared to March 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

In addition to the increase in telehealth service, there was a significant rise in the number of assessments and diagnoses of ADHD. In response to the increase in ADHD diagnoses and medication prescriptions, federal rules around prescribing medications, like Adderall, were relaxed and no longer required in-person examinations. Telehealth nursing and teletherapy has numerous benefits for children with ADHD. 


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ADHD Evaluations and treatment via telehealth. Telehealth session with mother and daughter, Telehealth can be used in treating ADHD in children

Evaluations 

Parents who suspect their child may have a condition like ADD or ADHD can have a virtual consultation with a medical professional who can provide an initial assessment based on the child’s behavior. They may, however, recommend an in-person follow-up to rule out other medical conditions and confirm the diagnosis. 

Although there are many benefits to using telehealth nursing or teletherapy sessions, experts remind parents that each child is unique and requires an individual approach. Parents should discuss their preferences with the therapist. 

Online teletherapy sessions

Holding virtual therapy sessions has an advantage over office sessions because the therapist can observe the child in their home environment where they are more comfortable and less distressed by the disruption of going to a doctor’s office. 

Online sessions can be scheduled at a time that is convenient for parents and children, allowing them to fit telehealth nursing or teletherapy into their busy schedules. This flexibility can prevent families from skipping sessions as long as they have access to Zoom or other online platforms. 

Treatment and medication monitoring 

Renewing prescriptions online makes it less time consuming for parents who do not need to make a trip to the doctor’s office. Doctors can also monitor the effects of the treatment online and adjust it.  

The convenience of online services means business can be conducted from the comfort of a person’s own home, office or any other location with an internet connection. This means they do not have to worry about commuting to an in-person appointment or taking time off work.

Real-time assistance with daily activities

For children who are struggling with certain day-to-day activities, such as keeping their room tidy or focusing on school work, the therapist can immediately guide them through using some techniques to help them overcome the problem. 

This real-time assistance also comes with confidentiality. Online teletherapy sessions can be conducted in a private and confidential setting, which may be especially helpful for those who are concerned about the stigma associated with seeking therapy.

Therapists are able to recommend online ADHD tools and help children use them in real-time sessions. They can evaluate if the tools are working and suggest changes. 

Lower risk of getting sick 

Online appointments reduce the risk of infections being spread or picked up at the doctor’s office. Kids can quickly catch colds, flu and other types of diseases by going to the doctor and sitting in the waiting room. The COVID-19 pandemic showed the importance of limiting visits to medical facilities unless they were necessary and unavoidable. 

If you have to travel to attend therapy sessions in person, your risk for exposure to communicable diseases increases. Not to mention the additional inconvenience such as fuel costs, public transportation schedules, and sitting in a waiting room with often very busy-body and impulsive kiddos. The latter can be quite a challenge. By attending therapy sessions online, you eliminate the need to travel and reduce your risk of getting sick.

How Telehealth can be used in treatment of ADHD in children, and why it's a great option. Image background is young girl on an Ipad.

Negatives of telehealth treatment

There are downsides to using telehealth treatment for ADHD in kids. First, it be difficult to get highly distracted kids to focus and make eye contact online. It can also be harder to engage with kids who are not talkative. It is easier for them to ignore the therapist because he or she is not physically in the room with them. Telehealth treatment may lack the personal, in-person interactions that some individuals with ADHD may benefit from in traditional therapy or medication management appointments.

Second, the therapist can miss some subtle cues in body language that may be more obvious when communicating in person. Telehealth treatment may be disrupted by technological issues such as poor internet connection or difficulty using video conferencing platforms. 

Third, some telehealth treatments for ADHD may not be covered by insurance plans or may have limited coverage, resulting in higher out-of-pocket costs for individuals seeking treatment. Telehealth treatment may not provide the same range of options as in-person treatment, such as medication management or group therapy. It is important for families to check coverage before scheduling. 

Overall, online teletherapy sessions offer a convenient and flexible way to access mental health care from the comfort of a person’s home. They can help lower the risk of getting sick by reducing a person’s exposure to germs and other hazards, eliminating the need to travel and providing greater convenience and reduced stress.

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