At the last parent teacher conference, my son's teacher
said he is having problems concentrating and paying
attention. His grades also are poorer than they have
been in the past. Should I have him evaluated for
Difficulties concentrating and paying attention are like
fever. They are common symptoms with many causes,
one of which is Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder,
or ADHD for short. Children also can have the
predominately inattentive type, known as ADD, and may
not be hyperactive.
Children often are misdiagnosed as ADHD when, in fact,
the reason they are having trouble concentrating is due
to another condition. First, a decline in grades could be
indicative of a learning disorder with the accompanying
attention problems revealing a tendency to not try
rather than to try and fail. Secondly, children who are
depressed often have concentration problems and
decreased motivation. Thirdly, children experiencing
anxiety can look similar to an ADHD child with both
attention/concentration problems and an increase in
motor movement and being "fidgety." It is easy to see
why symptoms of depression and anxiety can be
misdiagnosed as ADHD and, consequently, the
treatment regimen proving to be ineffective.
Another condition often misdiagnosed as ADHD is an
adjustment disorder. This is when a child is
experiencing a stressful situation and is having trouble
managing or adjusting to it. Ignoring or downplaying
the role of life changes or stressors also can lead to a
misdiagnosis of ADHD. Some language disorders also
look similar to ADHD. Children who have difficulties
understanding and/or expressing language can exhibit
following instructions because of language processing
Bottom line, an evaluation of ADHD must include the
considerations and ruling out of other conditions.
Accurate treatment is based upon accurate diagnosis.
The psychologists at the Rice Clinic provide such
a comprehensive evaluation.
Answered by: Dr. Susan Bryant, Ph.D.