Even when they suspect that their child has ADHD, many parents hold off on obtaining a diagnosis because they are uncertain about the difficulty of the process involved. But diagnosing ADHD doesn't necessarily mean pushing your child through a battery of psychological tests. In fact, you may not need to go any farther than a pediatrician's office, such as Willow Oak Pediatrics. Although you may still need to eventually involve a psychiatrist, these four steps can help you initiate a diagnosis through your pediatrician instead.
Recognizing the Signs of ADHD
Before any diagnosis can occur, of course, someone in your child's life must recognize the early symptoms of ADHD. You may notice that your child has difficulty staying focused on tasks, or his or her schoolteachers may report antsy behavior in the classroom. Your first suspicions that your child may have a disorder like ADHD can be highly upsetting. Seeking a diagnosis, even if it turns out to be false, will at least give you the peace of mind that comes with certainty.
Diagnosing ADHD in a Pediatric Office
Most pediatricians are trained to recognize developmental disorders like ADHD or autism, and your pediatrician should be able to diagnose the condition in your child. This is usually done following a set of guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which outlines the behaviors and responses typical of children with ADHD. These guidelines apply to children between the ages of 4 and 18 and may rely in part on your own personal experiences and observations.
Understanding the Benefits and Limitations of a Pediatric Diagnosis
Pediatricians are more generally trained than a specialist like a psychiatrist, meaning there is a slightly higher chance of misdiagnosis for conditions like ADHD. This may be outweighed, however, by your pediatrician's familiarity with your child and your child's comfort with the pediatrician. Where a psychiatrist's office may be intimidating and strange, a visit with your child's doctor can be a much more relaxed experience.
Seeking Further Psychiatric Analysis
If your child's case is particularly difficult, or if your pediatrician doesn't feel knowledgeable enough to recommend treatment, he or she may refer you to a child psychiatrist for further evaluation. This is especially common when a pediatrician suspects that a child may have other, co-morbid disorders. In these situations, it is usually best to follow your pediatrician's advice. ADHD is now very manageable, and many children see significant improvements as they age, but beginning treatment as quickly as possible can help keep your child on track in school and prevent more bad habits from forming.