Today we’re going to be talking about ADHD. One of the first questions I get asked is ADHD overdiagnosed. I think it’s a hard question to answer. And the most important thing is to go to somebody you trust for the diagnosis. There really are standards. The main one is that ADHD affects all kinds of different aspects of their life. So things like rating scale should be taking place at school, potentially sports definitely at home. A lot of parents are hoping to avoid medication. And medication is a very personal decision for every family. There are some things that you can try before pursuing medication. Some of these include avoiding size, changing diet and addressing sleep. If these are things that you can easily do as a family, I recommend trying them. But it’s really important that we think about your child’s overall functioning. For some children, it doesn’t matter how many of those changes we made, they’re still going to have trouble at school or at home or socially.
In those cases, it really matters to talk to someone, again that you trust.
A lot of pediatricians feel comfortable handling the initial diagnosis of ADHD. If you have additional concerns, or need people who do more complicated cases, or it can answer additional questions, you can go to the care clinic at any Children’s Hospital that works with pediatricians to help them take care of their patients, especially with mental health issues like ADHD. Sometimes girls are actually diagnosed later or are not diagnosed at all, especially if they are the inattentive type. Rather than disrupting the class, they tend to lose information.
Historically, ADHD has actually been more commonly diagnosed in boys, largely because they often present with disruptive behaviors that are easy to pick up in a classroom, we have to be careful actually, that we don’t miss boys who are the inattentive type, there’s more of the Daydream are ones who are just missing content because they’re focused on something else.
So what we usually see is a child who’s been doing well, but suddenly hits a grade where it doesn’t seem like things work anymore. It’s really important to get the schools involved early and get assessments done. Because sometimes it’s a matter of attention.
I like to think of it as somebody else holding the remote when you watch TV. This means that every couple of minutes, they change the channel, and you’re always catching up trying to figure out what happened last time. When the contents are easy, you can do that. But as you go up in the grade, sometimes you start having big knowledge gaps that then affect how you do academically. One of the things that can complicate making the diagnosis of ADHD is a lot of things affect attention. I like to think of this as a busy intersection. So depression actually can lead to inattention, anxiety can actually lead to over focus or difficulty with distractibility. And several other conditions, including learning disorders can be both common in people patients with ADHD and can be misdiagnosed. If you decide to do medication. I want you to know that these medicines have been used for over 50 years, and when used by skilled people, they can be very safe and very effective.
The goal is to get on the smallest amount of dose but still meaningfully impact how they do is school or socially. This is a great time to have a team take any of your questions to your pediatrician. If you’re worried about your kid paying attention being hyper or just doing things without thinking that’s a great place to start. If you have any bigger questions or you’re worried about anxiety or depression, you can also work with any collaborative care clinic. Remember, early diagnosis will save you lots of headache.