Is It ADHD? The Teacher and Doctor Disagree
By Dr. Stacie Bunning, clinical psychologist
My son's teacher and the principal say that my child has ADHD, but my doctor says he doesn't. What can I do?
First, find out the exact nature of the teacher's and principal's concerns. It is not unusual for school personnel to quickly label a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder if the child exhibits occasional hyperactivity, inattention or impulsivity in the classroom. These behaviors, though disruptive, may not be consistent or severe enough to qualify as true ADHD.
If you have not already done so, ask for a conference so they can share their thoughts and give you more specific information about your son's behavior. Discuss successful and unsuccessful interventions that have been attempted in the classroom. Ask the teacher to fill out a behavior checklist, such as the Conners Rating Scales or the Child Behavior Checklist, which you can get from the school counselor or your pediatrician. Data from these checklists can be presented to the physician to assist in his/her assessment.
Second, keep in mind that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is actually a complex neurological disorder. Diagnosis and treatment of ADHD requires specialized knowledge and training. As such, consider having your child evaluated by a child psychiatrist or a pediatric neurologist - comprehensive assessment by a specialist would be worth your peace of mind and might reassure school personnel that you have taken their concerns seriously.
Finally, what do you think? As his parent, you know your son better than anyone, and have seen him at his best and at his worst. If you are confident in your doctor's opinion that your son does not have ADHD, ask the teacher what the next step is to help your son succeed in the classroom. Collaborate with your son's educators and support their efforts. Being a strong advocate in your child's school is an important part of parenting.
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.