Determining a Family’s Stress When a Child has ADHD

Raising a child with ADHD can be stressful for parents and siblings. Medications, coaching and other strategies can help reduce a child’s ADHD symptoms and improve their performance in school. The care of the child is usually the focus of visits to pediatricians, primary care doctors or other providers. Yet families continue to report having stress and a lower quality of family life related to raising their ADHD child. Time-pressed primary care providers, who manage almost half of all children with ADHD, do not have a measure to quickly assess ADHD impacts on family in the context of everyday life. Continual stress can eventually lead to parental burn-out.

Now, a new tool has been developed to help providers determine the impacts of having an ADHD child on family quality of life. It is called the IMPACT (Impact Measure of Parenting-Related ADHD Challenges and Treatment) 1.0 Scale.

The IMPACT Scale was designed with the help of a parent advisory board and was created for clinician use during primary care follow-up visits in conjunction with the Vanderbilt standard ADHD rating scale. Its purpose is to get at the key pain points that are making it hard on families with ADHD children.

Alison Escalante M.D., writing for Psychology Today, describes how the IMPACT 1.0 assessment works. On a 5 point rating scale, it rates how often, in the past 4 weeks, issues have occurred in the following areas:

  • Misbehavior – This includes misbehavior at social events, meal times, or while running errands in public.
  • Siblings – This looks at physical or verbal fights, the ability of siblings to work together to complete household tasks and whether or not siblings want to be around the child with ADHD.
  • Time – This examines how parents feel about whether or not they have enough time to give their other children attention, get things done around the house or can find a little time to relax
  • School – This takes into account things like phone calls from teachers, or parents worrying that teachers think negatively about their child

This tool is efficient to administer and can be a effective way for clinicians to connect with and support families about the stress in their lives related to raising an ADHD child.

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