Thursday, 28 February 2013 10:02
By Tara Fortner Hanna
Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder is a mental health diagnosis many parents and educators have heard of or encountered. However, recent research estimates that as many as one million school-age children may be misdiagnosed with the disorder.
ADHD is difficult to diagnose. If you are concerned your child or student may exhibit symptoms of ADHD, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer a simple checklist at www.cdc.gov/NCBDDD/adhd/widget/checklist/index.html. While this can be a useful tool, it is important to remember that it is not a substitute for diagnosis by a qualified medical or mental health professional.
There are many other disorders that children suffer from that have symptoms similar to ADHD. These include anxiety and bipolar disorder, which is why a professional evaluation is the key to an accurate diagnosis.
According to the website ADDitude.com, “Anxiety may cause restlessness that can be interpreted as hyperactivity. Or it may bring worries or concerns that cause a child to be inattentive. As anxiety levels increase, the child may appear to be acting quickly or irrationally in order to minimize stress. A parent might label him as impulsive. A superficial assessment might suggest that the child has ADHD, when he really has an anxiety disorder.”
WebMD.com says: “With ADHD, a child or teen may have rapid or impulsive speech, physical restlessness, trouble focusing, irritability, and, sometimes, defiant or oppositional behavior. Children or teens with bipolar disorder often have similar behaviors.”
It is suggested that your child be evaluated by a medical or mental health professional over a period of time. Providing the professional with reports or assessments from teachers and other caregivers can be helpful in determining the correct diagnosis.
However, keep in mind that, about half of all children with ADHD also have a learning disability, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or other issues. If you have concerns, it is important to have your child evaluated by a professional, sooner rather than later. ADHD can have a profound effect on learning and academic development. Children whose symptoms began in early childhood are at the highest risk for academic failure and grade repetition.
Hanna is a licensed master social worker at Cana Counseling and a Catholic Charities school counselor.
Does you child need help?
If your child is struggling with attention, grades, or any other issues, consider school counseling as a resource. Cana Counseling at Catholic Charities provides free school counseling on site at these schools: St. Patrick, St. Margaret Mary, St. Joseph, Christ the King, All Saints, and St. Anne. The service is funded through grants, a diocesan subsidy, as well as designated and undesignated donations to Catholic Charities.