My Son Was Misdiagnosed With ADHD

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki, 

My son was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by a pediatrician at a hospital two years ago. He was never very hyperactive, but he had a tough time focusing and staying on task while in school.

He was prescribed the lowest dosage of Concerta and took it only on school days. Then we began to notice a decrease in his appetite and a change in his personality. 

We stopped giving the meds and worked on organization strategies and how to self-monitor. 

Now, we have a totally different kid. My son is very organized and can attend to different tasks that require long periods of concentration. In addition, he is doing well academically.  

I've requested a re-evaluation because I think there was a misdiagnosis after teacher and parent rating scales for ADHD were completed. I believe my child was being compared to kids a year and half older and just needed time to mature.

I would like the diagnosis removed or at least annotated to reflect that he is currently showing no signs of ADHD.

How do I go about doing this? What do you suggest?

-- Advocating Parent

Dear Parent,

There is nothing wrong in advocating for your child. Hooray for you for acting on this situation!

You should be able to start the process to remove the diagnosis by requesting a new meeting to discuss your concerns.

Diagnoses are not final. The special education chairperson would be able to give you guidance in this matter.

Generally, parent and teacher rating scales are not the only determinants used to diagnose ADHD. There are cognitive and achievement assessments that are given to the child, a careful assessment that includes a history of the child, and several observations to help with an accurate diagnosis.

In the school's defense, when a child is off-task, teachers know this will affect his or her academic performance. As a result, they try to remedy the problem so the child won't suffer academically.

I agree with your attempt to employ behavioral modification techniques to help your son. Many times, these efforts will be successful, but it takes a combined effort from parents and educators for them to work.

There is a lot of research that suggests ADHD is overdiagnosed when other factors may influencing a child’s behavior -- like a young child who is not as mature as other students in a class.

I think you made the right decision. Please let me know what happens.

-- Ms. Vicki

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