By: Beverly S
As a public school educator for 21 years, you can guess that Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was often part of my conversations with co-teachers and also with parents. As a counselor I entered a new realm of experience, as I gave initial surveys to parents and teachers and helped parents decide the best course of action for their children. I just wanted to share a few observations I have made over the years of dealing with this disorder and the diagnosis of this disorder in children.
Who is Qualified to Diagnosis ADD/ADHD
First, a teacher or a counselor cannot make this diagnosis. The teacher and parents together contribute information that a medical doctor, educational psychologist or psychiatrist will use to diagnose this medical condition. No matter how dogmatic a teacher might be—and his/her years of educational experience can create valued observational skills—only a medical person can diagnose and prescribe medication for this disorder. Sometimes the school counselor gathers the information that the medical doctor needs—there is an ADD/ADHD survey that can be completed and a counselor computes the scores, which are then submitted to the medical person involved. It’s important for you to remember who is truly qualified to make the statement that your child is ADD/ADHD.
Children in Transition with similar characteristics to ADD
Inattention to schoolwork, inability to listen intensely and cognitively sort information, and distractibility can also have emotional roots. Children who are in transition and children who have experienced trauma or crisis in the recent past will often experience great distractibility. They are just like us in coping with life’s difficulties, they are just shorter and have less years of life’s experiences with which to process suffering. For example, when my dad had a stroke and I was on this side of the world, my thoughts were with him—not on learning language, remembering the daily routine, and my decision making skills were momentarily non-existent. Children are no different. New countries, new cultures, new languages, new schools, new neighborhoods, new teachers—these are a lot to process and temporarily can cause ADD-like symptoms in your child.
Diet and ADD/ADHD
Diet and ADD/ADHD is an interesting topic to research. The pendulum keeps swinging back and forth with ADD/ADHD and medications. As a school counselor, I always urged parents to try modifying their student’s diets first, before medicating. The problem is, it’s quite a hassle. Limiting food with red dye and modifying sugar intake is difficult. Other food allergies can stimulate behavior and depress cognitive synapses. Before diet modification is implemented, it would be important for both parents to be in complete agreement and both to be educated on diet restrictions for this program to work. If there is a schoolteacher involved, communication on the family plan is beneficial. Contrary to what you read in the paper and hear on the news, most teachers want the best for the child’s physical and mental health and are willing to work with the parents through the initial discovery process of what is best for that child.
If you are concerned about your child’s distractibility—or if someone else has told you your child “must be ADHD”–please contact someone who can help you obtain a correct diagnosis.
Always remember that God loves your child more than you love him/her yourself. He is the Creator and Planner. He is your child’s primary advocate. Trust Him.
Struggling with whether or not to medicate? Please read this post by a fellow blogger: