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Understanding ADHD

Only a health care professional can diagnose ADHD. But what else is there to know?

  • How do I know if my child has ADHD and not something else?

    Only a health care professional can accurately diagnose ADHD. If you are concerned your child may have ADHD, make an appointment with your child’s doctor. To prepare for the appointment, complete the ADHD Symptom Checklist

  • What should I know about ADHD treatment options?

    Medications do not cure ADHD. Rather, they may help people with ADHD control the hyperactive/impulsive and inattentive symptoms of ADHD. Medicine may not be right for everyone and if prescribed may be used as part of a total treatment plan for ADHD that may include counseling and other therapies. Learn more about Vyvanse as a treatment option for ADHD.
  • How can ADHD symptoms change as my child gets older?

    What your child experiences might change and what you observe in your child's behavior might change as well. For details, check out ADHD in Children
  • Will my child eventually grow out of ADHD?

    There is no way to predict if your child may outgrow ADHD. Based on parents' reports, as many as 50% of children with ADHD continued to have ADHD as adults. Keep talking with your child’s doctor and track your child’s progress with this ADHD Doctor Discussion Guide.
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Looking for Support

  • What help may be available for my child in school?

    If you decide to pursue help for your child in school, you have some options to explore.

    • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provides for accommodations such as providing students with ADHD clear and simple directions for homework and in-class assignments, a quiet place to work, or access to a computer in school for written work.
    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
    • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides for an Individualized Education Program, also known as an IEP.
    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
    • An IEP is a written agreement between parents and the school. It spells out specific goals based on a child’s current level of performance and provides a list of services that will be granted as discussed by the parent and school. 
    Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • What are some things to consider before seeking help for my child in school?

    Before pursuing special learning arrangements for your child, keep these points in mind:

    • Consider if your child with ADHD would be embarrassed if accommodations are made in class. You may wish to keep any agreements about changes between your child and his or her teachers.
    • It’s important to remain positive. It can be challenging to get in place support services for your child with ADHD. 
  • How can I work with my child's school?

    • Meet with your child’s teachers to share your concerns and explore accommodation options.
    • Ask your child’s teachers to write down the learning or behavioral concerns your child has and have them share that list with you.
    • Request a written evaluation of your child. Make sure to do it in writing. Date the request and keep a copy for your records.
    • Take an active role in preparing your child’s education plan.
    • Follow up each meeting with your child’s school with a letter documenting what took place, and then note any issues and keep copies on file.
    • Check with the school or find a local support group to answer questions and to help you advocate for your child. 
  • What does an ADHD coach do and where can I find one for my child?

    ADHD coaches are trained in specific techniques to help people with ADHD set goals for creating new behavior patterns. Coaches may charge a fee or provide fee-based services to help with practical issues like getting organized and managing time. Ask your doctor for help finding an ADHD coach. You can also visit one of these ADHD coaching sites for more information:

  • Where can I connect with other parents who have children with ADHD?

    Ask the doctor for information about support groups for parents of children with ADHD. Or contact an ADHD support and advocacy organization to see what services they may have available. Here are some to check out:

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IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

Vyvanse is a federally controlled substance (CII) because it can be abused or lead to dependence. Keep Vyvanse in a safe place to prevent misuse and abuse. Selling or giving away Vyvanse may harm others and is against the law.

Vyvanse is a stimulant medicine. Tell the doctor if you or your child have ever abused or been dependent on alcohol, prescription medicines, or street drugs.

Who should not take Vyvanse?

Do not take Vyvanse if you or your child are:

  • taking or have taken an anti-depression medicine called a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) within the past 14 days.
  • sensitive or allergic to, or had a reaction to other stimulant medicines.

Serious problems can occur while taking Vyvanse. Tell the doctor:

  • if you or your child have heart problems, heart defects, high blood pressure, or a family history of these problems. Sudden death has occurred in people with heart problems or defects taking stimulant medicines. Sudden death, stroke and heart attack have happened in adults taking stimulant medicines. Your doctor should check you or your child carefully for heart problems before starting Vyvanse. Since increases in blood pressure and heart rate may occur, the doctor should regularly check these during treatment. Call the doctor right away if you or your child have any signs of heart problems such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting while taking Vyvanse.
  • if you or your child have mental (psychiatric) problems, or a family history of suicide, bipolar illness, or depression. New or worse behavior and thought problems or new or worse bipolar illness may occur. New psychotic symptoms (such as seeing or hearing things that are not real, believing things that are not true, being suspicious) or new manic symptoms may occur. Call the doctor right away if there are any new or worsening mental symptoms or problems during treatment.
  • if you or your child have circulation problems in fingers and toes (peripheral vasculopathy, including Raynaud’s phenomenon). Fingers or toes may feel numb, cool, painful, sensitive to temperature and/or change color from pale, to blue, to red. Call the doctor right away if any signs of unexplained wounds appear on fingers or toes while taking Vyvanse.
  • if your child is having slowing of growth (height or weight). The doctor should check your child’s height and weight often while on Vyvanse, and may stop treatment if a problem is found.
  • if you or your child have symptoms of serotonin syndrome: agitation, hallucinations, coma, or changes in mental status; problems controlling movements or muscle twitching, stiffness, or tightness; fast heartbeat; sweating or fever; nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Call your doctor or go to the emergency room if symptoms occur. Serotonin syndrome may occur if Vyvanse is taken with certain medicines and may be life-threatening.
  • if you or your child are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Vyvanse may harm your unborn baby.
  • if you or your child are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed while taking Vyvanse. Talk to your doctor about the best way to feed your baby if you take Vyvanse.

What are possible side effects of Vyvanse?

The most common side effects of Vyvanse in ADHD include:

    • anxiety
    • decreased appetite
    • diarrhea
    • dizziness
    • dry mouth
    • irritability
    • loss of appetite
    • nausea
    • trouble sleeping
    • upper stomach pain
    • vomiting
    • weight loss

The most common side effects of Vyvanse in adults with moderate to severe B.E.D. include:

    • dry mouth
    • trouble sleeping
    • decreased appetite
    • increased heart rate
    • constipation
    • feeling jittery
    • anxiety

For additional safety information, click here for Prescribing Information and Medication Guide and discuss with your doctor.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


  • if you or your child are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Vyvanse may harm your unborn baby.
  • if you or your child are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Vyvanse may harm your unborn baby.
  • if you or your child are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Vyvanse may harm your unborn baby.
  • if you or your child are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Vyvanse may harm your unborn baby.
  • if you or your child are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Vyvanse may harm your unborn baby.
  • if you or your child are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Vyvanse may harm your unborn baby.