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How child psychologists can assist with ADHD diagnosis and treatment

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects one in twenty Australians. ADHD can involve difficulties with concentrating, listening, hyperactivity and executive functioning. Children and adolescents experiencing ADHD may encounter difficulties with functioning including behavioural, social, and academic difficulties. Diagnosis and treatment of ADHD can assist your child to manage symptoms and live the best life possible. Psychologists can help with this process in a number of ways. Here are some frequently asked questions regarding psychology and ADHD.  

Can a child psychologist diagnose ADHD?  

ADHD is a neurological condition, meaning the brains of those affected function in a ‘neurodivergent way.’ Neurodivergent means that brain functioning is different or atypical in some way compared to the majority of the population. There is increasing recognition that being neurodivergent can be a real strength. 

A team of health professionals including a paediatrician or child psychiatrist, as well as a psychologist, are often involved in the ADHD diagnostic process. Psychologists gather information to consider for diagnosis. This information can include: developmental history, questionnaires by parents and teachers, behavioural observations, and psychometric testing (such as memory, intellect and educational tests).  

How can a child psychologist help with explaining and adjusting to an ADHD diagnosis?  

What does a child psychologist do when presented with possible ADHD? Child psychologists are skilled communicators who can interpret test results and explain the information and diagnosis for various individuals. Our psychologists provide formal reports of the ADHD assessment process conveying information in a way that health professionals, teachers, parents, and young people themselves can understand.  

Child psychologists can verbally explain ADHD to parents and young people using appropriate language and in a way that is productive and affirming. Here at Young Minds, we have a person-centred approach to therapy and assessment, meaning we work to assist in a way that is tailored to the unique individual. ADHD tends to co-occur with several conditions such as autism, anxiety, depression and learning difficulties. Child psychologists will consider and assess for these conditions as needed and will work to provide therapy that best supports the symptoms of your young person.  

What is a child psychologist’s role in managing ADHD symptoms? 

Psychologists do not prescribe medication but can assist with ADHD symptoms through cognitive, behavioural, and emotional strategies. This can include recommendations to adapt the environment, parenting advice, and skills training (such as emotion regulation, social skills and problem solving). Techniques to approaching tasks (such as breaking tasks down, planning, pacing, appropriate breaks etc.) can also be taught.  

How can a child psychologist help with the academic issues ADHD can cause? 

ADHD can lead to challenges in the school environment. The school day requires attention and quiet behaviour for much of the day, which can be challenging for children with ADHD. Child psychologists can help by: 

  • Providing advice on how to adapt the school environment to help your child focus 
  • Assisting with adapting tasks and/or assessments to make them more achievable with ADHD symptoms 
  • Providing psychoeducation and support around any co-occurring difficulties such as learning disabilities 
  • Helping with executive function difficulties in the school environment (for example, time management) 
  • Providing teachers and parents with behavioural management strategies to get children back on track when distracted 
  • Suggesting ways to help children complete homework  
  • Working with you and your child to reduce procrastination  

How can a child psychologist assist with the behavioural issues that can come with ADHD? 

Children with ADHD may find they have a lot of energy and have difficulty switching between or stopping behaviours. This can lead to conflict with parents and teachers, which can be extremely frustrating for young people who may have not intended to misbehave or may have reacted impulsively. Child psychologists can help by: 

  • Recommending behavioural management strategies that take into account ADHD symptoms (for example, making sure you have the child’s attention before speaking, speaking in short, clear directions, breaking tasks down etc.).  
  • Providing psychoeducation about ADHD and the symptoms  
  • Helping ADHD symptoms to be identified and understood. Helping to avoid your child being negatively labelled.  
  • Supporting with executive functioning at home and school (e.g., charts to outline steps for getting ready).  
  • Helping parents to assist their child to down regulate 
  • Speaking about ADHD/the symptoms in a way that is helpful and not stigmatising for your child  
  • Effective parenting strategies 

How can a child psychologist assist with social difficulties that may arise because of ADHD?  

Difficulty regulating energy levels, attention and impulse control can lead to social difficulties for children with ADHD. This can lead your child to follow others’ bad example, to behave inappropriately, or to be perceived negatively by peers. Child psychologists can assist by:  

  • Helping your child to recognise their energy levels and emotions, and giving them tools to self-regulate 
  • Providing your child with social-skills training so they are aware of social cues and can navigate difficult situations and/or make repair attempts if needed 
  • Teaching your child how to problem-solve  


ADHD can affect young people significantly. Child psychologists are often part of a team of professionals who contributes to an ADHD diagnosis. Psychologists can help children and the adults who support them in a number of ways, including helping with the academic, behavioural and social difficulties that can arise from ADHD. Please contact us on (07) 3857 0074 if you are in interested in having your child assessed for ADHD or need support in this area.