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There are various ways of becoming an attention deficit disorder (ADD) specialist, depending on the type of work that you want to do. To become an ADD specialist in a school, for example, you most likely will need a college degree — at least a bachelor's degree, but possibly a master's — in social work or psychology, with an emphasis on child development and attention span issues. For other jobs as an ADD specialist, your education might need to focus on a certain type of counseling, or you might need to pursue a medical degree.
Some ADD specialists are medical doctors or doctorate-level therapists who help ADD patients manage their conditions through regular counseling and sessions and examinations. An ADD specialist also can be a social worker, particularly one who works in a school setting to help diagnose and identify children who might be affected by the disorder. Specialists also work in private organizations, tailoring services to children or, more commonly, adults who have attention issues. The requirements for each sort of ADD specialist are different, often even between jurisdictions.
It usually is a good idea to take a bit of time to research your options and determine the precise sort of work that you want to do before you jump into any specific course of study. Pursing a medical degree, for instance, is a costly and time-intensive course if all you want to do is counsel children and families that have been affected by an ADD diagnosis. Working on a cure for the disorder probably will require the expertise of a physician, however. There are a great many ways to become an ADD specialist, although finding the right path is often one of the hardest parts of the process.
ADD and its sister disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are most commonly diagnosed in school-aged children. Many schools have, in response, begun staffing counselors who are well-versed in spotting and treating these ailments. Most of these professionals have master’s degrees, and many have done extensive research on the developing brain and cognitive therapy for children.
Children who have been diagnosed are not the only ones who need counseling, however. Many families work with specialists to learn how to cope with their child’s condition, as well as to learn how to structure activities that the child will be able to both succeed in and learn from, whether at the house or in school. Adults who have been diagnosed commonly also seek this kind of family-based counseling. If you want to become an ADD specialist focused on family counseling, pursuing education in community counseling or psychology is often the best course.
The majority of private practice counselors are trained in psychology have obtained a doctoral degree with emphasis on family therapy or couples therapy in the face of learning disabilities. To become an ADD specialist of this sort, you will need to commit to both your education and your client base, often working with schools or other community groups for referrals to build your practice. Some counselors have to start out offering general services in addition to ADD-specific counseling before they have the client base to be more exclusive.
Counselors and social workers can go a long way toward helping ADD sufferers cope with their diagnosis and adjust their lives to remain highly functional. Neither of these professionals can use medicine or science to cure the disorder, however. The only specialists with this ability are medical doctors, often those having specialized in psychiatry or cognitive and behavioral medicine. If you are hoping to become an ADD specialist who will be able to prescribe medication and work on researching cures, you will need to pursue a medical degree and the proper licensing in your jurisdiction. This path requires a significant amount of education — at least eight years in most places — but it is often lauded as intensely rewarding.