Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Guide
ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s a condition that affects the way the brain works and controls the body. It’s caused by a shortage of chemicals called neurotransmitters, which help the brain send and receive messages. When the brain doesn’t have enough neurotransmitters, messages have trouble traveling between nerves. That can make it hard for a person to pay attention or control their body, thoughts and feelings
Watch for symptoms
- Lack of focus, inconsistent performance at school, distraction, trouble shifting between tasks or settings, messiness and forgetfulness are symptoms of the attention deficit part of ADHD.
- Being easy to anger, having trouble controlling impulses (talking too much, interrupting), moving constantly and refusal to learn from mistakes are symptoms of the hyperactivity part of ADHD.
Think about treatments
- Therapy: A therapist can help your child learn healthy ways to cope with ADHD. They can offer support and give them tips to better manage their time. They can also share what habits make ADHD worse and teach your child how to cut down on them.
- Medication: Some kids with ADHD take stimulants to help with focus. Others take antidepressants or other medicines. They can’t cure ADHD but can help with symptoms. Talk to your child’s doctor about what may be right for them. It may take some time to find what works best.
Use tips and tricks
- Make a schedule for each day and help your child stick to it.
- Use a day planner and to-do lists that you can follow together.
- Set alerts or alarms and write reminder notes.
- Find activities that let your child be creative instead of those that are focused on details.
- Limit distractions during homework and other tasks.
- Let your child take breaks from activity when they need it.
- Reward your child when they finish a task.
CMS Health Plan can connect you and your child to services and supports for people with ADHD. Here are some examples of benefits your child may qualify for:
- Behavioral Health Assessment Services – People with ADHD are more likely to also have depression and other mental health disorders. Get up to 150 minutes of behavioral health services per year, as medically necessary.
- Family Therapy Services – Up to 26 hours of family therapy sessions per year. Covered as medically necessary.
- Group Therapy Services – Up to 39 hours of group therapy per year. Covered as medically necessary.
- Individual Therapy Services – Up to 26 hours of one-on-one therapy per year. Covered as medically necessary.
- Specialized Therapeutic Services – Services provided to children up to 20 years old who are diagnosed with a mental illness or substance use disorder. Covered as medically necessary. Prior authorization required.
- Medication Management Services – Services to help you make the best choices for taking medication. Covered as medically necessary.
- Mental Health Targeted Case Management – Services to get medical and behavioral healthcare for people with mental illness.
- Swimming Lessons – Up to $200 a year for swimming lessons.
- Equine Therapy* – Therapy that involves activities with horses.
- Pet Therapy* -- Therapy that involves activities with trained animals.
- Art Therapy* – Therapy that involves art activities with a behavioral health clinician with an art therapy certification.
Learn more about your child’s CMS Health Plan benefits.
Contact Member Services or your Care Manager to learn about support programs, including:
- Steps2Success: Free reading scholarships for qualified members who are in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and want to improve their reading skills. Members 16 and older without a high school diploma can take the General Educational Development (GED) Exam for free. Space is limited. Fill out a scholarship application (PDF) to get started.
- Tutoring Services: Up to 12 two-hour tutoring sessions per year to help with schoolwork. Contact your child’s Care Manager for details.
- Hazel Health: School-based telehealth program to improve access to both behavioral and medical care in schools**
*Through EPSDT (Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment).
**Only available in some counties. Ask your child’s Care Manager for details.
- Understanding ADHD, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
- Find an overview guide to understanding and living with ADHD, as well as resources for parents, caregivers and educators. Available in English and Spanish. Learn ADHD terms, read frequently asked questions and access webinars and trainings.
- Youth Resilience Program, Florida State University
- Pay What You Can Peer Support
- Virtual Peer Support Group for people living with ADHD. You can also access more than 25 support groups on other topics, which you can browse and sign up for on the nonprofit’s website. Space is limited. Sign up is free, but you can donate any amount if you choose to. Call 1-888-718-3661 or email email@example.com for more information.
- Learn to Be
- Free, one-on-one, online tutoring for kids living in low-income households and underserved communities. Your child can get help with many subjects, from basic math and reading to chemistry and pre-calculus. They will be assigned their own tutor who will work with them for as long as it takes to reach their learning goals. Enroll online, where you can also find practice problems for your child sorted by grade level and subject.
Visit the Krames Health Library to access thousands of health sheets on medications, conditions and more. Visit the Community Resource Database to get connected with programs and supports in your area that can help with food, shelter, education, jobs and more.