ADHD has quickly become one of the most popular diagnoses in recent times. While it is said to only affect 4-7% of school-aged children, it seems that almost every other child is being labeled with the disorder.
Just because someone displays one or two symptoms that are consistent with ADHD, it does not automatically mean that this particular child would meet the criteria for diagnosis.
For this very reason, it is critical that you know how to react and what steps to take if someone mentions that your child might have ADHD, and if you yourself share some concern as well.
Step 1: The source
The first and perhaps most important step to consider when someone mentions they think your child has ADHD is to consider the source. Most people today throw the term around like they would say, “let's go to the movies. " It really has become part of mainstream media and society.
Step 2: Questions
The next step is to ask questions. You want to know the specifics of what makes this particular person think your child might have ADHD. What were the behaviors he or she witnessed or observed?
Step 3: Observation
Armed with the information you have been provided, you need to consider whether you have witnessed these same behaviors. A disorder like ADHD must be present across situations and not just specific to being observed just at home or at school.
Step 4: Life stuff
The next thing you want to do is consider what else has been going on in your family, your immediate surroundings, and in you and your child's lives. There are many different reasons why a child might display symptoms consistent with ADHD in response to certain events in life.
Step 5: Knowledge
Read up and get informed about what ADHD is and what it is not. Make sure you get a lot of different perspectives, and maybe even ask for a recommendation of what to read. There are a lot of people who will try and paint a negative picture of what ADHD is and what it is not.
Step 6: Professionals
When you are ready to speak with professionals, make sure you go to someone who is an expert on ADHD, and not just someone who will quickly evaluate, assess, and diagnose your child's behavior. It's too easy to diagnose a child with ADHD. A real expert will look to see what else is happening.
Step 7: Diagnosis
If your child does have ADHD, you want to work with professionals who are supportive, encouraging, and nurturing. Again, you want to make the best of your child's symptoms, rather than scaring them into the belief that attention deficit is a disadvantage.
At the very least, I ask that you always consider what else might be going on in life that could explain for why your child looks as if he or she has ADHD.
And now I would like to offer you access to an almost 60-minute audio interview where a successful professional reveals how he has personally dealt with and managed ADHD for 15 years. In this interview, my colleague discusses his personal struggles, strategies, and challenges with ADHD.