If you have been told that your child may have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), there are some questions you should ask in addition to seeking a medical professional’s opinion. Many children do have ADHD, but there are some children who are misdiagnosed, and that often comes from rushing to the diagnosis instead of following each step in the diagnosis process. One of the steps is to rule out other possibilities.
In addition to seeing medical advice and making sure your child has a thorough evaluation is to ask yourself these questions:
Is Your Child the Youngest in the Class? – There was a study in Canada and another two in the United States found that immaturity may be part of the problem with children in the classroom rather than ADHD. Does your child have a late birthday? According to a study conducted by Dr. E. Jane Garland, “the youngest boys were 30% more likely than their oldest classmates to get an ADHD diagnosis, and the youngest girls had a 70% greater chance” (Harding).
Has your child’s hearing and vision been checked recently? – It seems simple, but some inattentiveness can come from loss of hearing or vision (Hamilton). I had a friend with severe hearing loss that wasn’t diagnosed until college. She did so much better in school after diagnosis and a hearing aid, and her friendships improved because everyone now knew about the hearing problem, and she could follow conversations better.
Has your child’s learning ability been checked? – Children can be inattentive because they are bored academically, because they have learning disabilities, or because they are behind in school. Is English your child’s second language? A language barrier can also cause symptoms of ADHD. There are lots of academic reasons that may affect your child, so be sure to find out where your child falls and if there are any learning disabilities getting in the way (Hamilton).
Is there a possibility of a food allergy or food sensitivity? – Food allergies can do more than just make a person feel sick. Watch your child’s behavior and see if things change after your child eats certain foods. If you notice a certain behavior after eating a certain food or drinking a certain drink, seek medical advice. Most experts don’t see a clear correlation between food and ADHD although they do acknowledge that diet can have some effect on behavior (Martin).
Has your child ever suffered some sort of head injury? – This may seem way out there, but more and more we’re learning that any trauma to the brain can have lasting effects. According to PsychCentral.com, head injury may be a cause in a “very small minority of children,” so while you should consider it, it may not be likely.
Does your child suffer from anxiety? – According to Dr. Barbara Howard, “A child with an anxiety disorder may be so consumed with her fears and worries that they take her focus away from other things” (Hamilton).
Is there the possibility that your child has depression, bipolar disorder, manic depression or any other illness? – There are other disorders that cause your child to exhibit symptoms of ADHD (Martin). You’re seeking the right diagnosis for your child. Your child may have a different medical condition that exhibit symptoms similar to ADHD, and it’s important that if your child does, that you get the right diagnosis and the right treatment.
Remember, you know your child and you have an obligation to seek out the correct diagnosis, so don’t rush to judgment and don’t skip any of the diagnostic steps.
Hamilton, Stefanie. “Inattentive-type ADHD Often Misdiagnosed, Misudnerstood.” 4 ADHD. CRC Health Group. N.D. Web. 6 Jun. 2012. < http://www.4-adhd.com/adhd/inattentive-type-adhd-often-misdiagnosed-misunderstood.htm>.
Harding, Anne. “Youngest Kids in Class More Likely to be Diagnosed with ADHD.” CNN Health. Cable News Network. 5 Mar. 2012. Web. 6 Jun. 2012. <http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/05/health/adhd-diagnosis-youngest-kids/index.html> .
Martin, Ben. “Causes of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD).” PsychCentral. PyschCentral. 1999-2012. Web. 6 Jun. 2012. < http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/causes-of-attention-deficit-disorder-adhd/>.