Should my kid be tested for ADHD?
The question of whether to have your child tested or not is one that often concerns parents, because they fear that there is something “wrong” with their child. ADHD is often seen as the cause of many problems in young children. Parents dread hearing the letters coming out of a doctor’s mouth, but fortunately it also provides some relief. Parents that have to raise children that are excessively hyper-active, and struggle to listen when they are being spoken to, are often seen as problematic and lead to frustration and even anger.
An ADHD child often struggles at school; their lack of concentration often prevents them from learning effectively and it hinders their progress during the most important schooling years. For a parent that wants the best for their child, and seeing them struggle with school work can also be quite taxing and often leads to despondency. The child loses confidence in their abilities and the parent feels like they have let their child down.
Regardless of how one might feel about getting their child tested for ADHD, a simple fact remains that once it has been correctly diagnosed, it can be treated effectively and the child and still lead a relatively normal life.
The process of diagnosing ADHD is generally not an easy one, as specific criteria need to be met in order to confirm the diagnosis. Several symptoms have to present on at least two separate occasions by the time the child has turned a specific age. Doctors and psychiatrists say that they need to present at least 6 of the symptoms by the age of seven. The severity of the symptoms need to be severe enough to impair the child in multiple settings, like their home, their school and even their interactions with peers. Quite often the diagnosis is inaccurate, because there are a number of other factors that can cause the exact same symptoms. Stress is a good example of something that could cause a lack of concentration in your child, and it would most likely lead to misdiagnosis.
Due to the number of possible causes for a lack in concentration or hyperactivity, it is very important that a number of key people play a role in aiding a doctor or psychiatrist. Your child must be evaluated in isolation with a professional as well as when they are interacting with family, friends and teachers. As most of their day is spent at school, a child’s teacher would play an informative role, giving the doctor all the vital information they need to accurately diagnose a child. The teachers often pay careful attention to how a child will interact with his peers as well. These particular relationships are important, as socializing with friends helps create a relaxed environment for the child, as there is generally no pressure to perform apart from having fun. If the teacher notes any specific symptoms in that environment, they would be far more applicable than when the child is sitting in class trying to learn arithmetic, for example, as the stress factors are clearly different.
As your child grows older the symptoms become less prevalent and it is even harder to diagnose. In order to minimize the error in diagnosis, it is much better to get the testing done early. If you suspect that your child has ADHD and they are older than seven, then a different set of tests need to be done to confirm it. What your child is eating, how active they are, and how they interact with people is very important. Extensive tests need to be performed by your child, in order to diagnose it in the most scientific way possible. IQ tests, Connors/Burks questionnaires need to be done. A full psychological evaluation of the child and their family must be completed and assessed. Only then can they conclude a successful diagnosis.
The most common symptom for ADHD is the obvious lack of concentration. A child with ADHD is easily distracted, and they will often be forgetful or miss details entirely. Boredom is also another prevalent sign, and causes the child to become mischievous and demanding. They will often daydream and not be able to focus on a given task. Their listening skills become impaired, and as a result they have difficulty in following instructions and can become confused quite easily. The hyperactivity symptoms include restlessness and being fidgety. They will constantly be in motion, and will tend to talk nonstop. As a result of their hyperactivity, they will often be impatient, and they have difficulty waiting for things.
Unfortunately, most children do not get diagnosed with ADHD and some get incorrectly diagnosed. If it goes untreated, the effects of the disorder cause serious problems at school, and may even lead to drug and alcohol abuse or delinquent behavior. Treatment for incorrectly diagnosed children has been known to cause depression and apathy.
The treatment for ADHD will either be drug related, therapy related or both. Drug treatment requires an assessment by a qualified psychiatrist, as they will need to prescribe the medication. Ritalin is the most commonly prescribe medication for children and can be quite effective if the dosage is managed correctly. Incorrect doses may end up having adverse effects, and for this reason a therapy related treatment is often prescribed. This method is less taxing physically, and still promotes activity without the dangers of any side-effects. Teachers communicate with parents on a regular basis, changes to their environment to limit distractions in class, and changing their diet can significantly improve ability to concentrate better.
As you can see, ADHD doesn’t have to be a disability and you certainly don’t have to worry about how your child is going to cope. If you prefer not to make use of prescribed meds for your child, then you can do some research or speak to a specialist that can help with making a few changes to your child’s daily routine. Spend some time getting to know the symptoms and try to spot them as early as possible. Once you have the measures in place, your child can grow and develop into a healthy and productive lifestyle.