HomeLearning DifficultiesLearning Disabilities & ADHDDiagnosing ADHD

Is It ADHD or Something Else?

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By Kristin Stanberry

Your Culture

Does your child come from a culture different from that of her teacher and classmates? If so, and if her teacher has expressed concern about her behavior, you may want to help the teacher understand the attitudes and accepted behaviors of your culture.

Mood and Emotions

Does your child seem to worry more than other kids his age? Does he have "nervous habits," like biting his nails? Or, have you noticed he seems to be unusually sad, angry, or withdrawn? If there is extreme stress in your household, it may affect your child's emotions. Stress can come in the form of divorce, remarriage, a new baby, fighting, or a death in the family. Does your child often complain about his school, teacher, or classmates? Or, does he refuse to talk to you about school? Either way, he may be feeling stressed about people and situations at school.

School Performance

Has your child's teacher reported behavior, performance, or attention problems in the classroom? If so, ask to meet with her to:

  • See how the classroom is set up. If your child has vision or hearing problems, is she sitting too far from the board and teacher, or near a noisy heater? How well does the classroom furniture "fit" her? Can it be adjusted?
  • Ask how well your child performs compared to other kids his age. If the teacher is concerned that he's falling behind, you might discuss the possibility of a learning disability (LD). Learning disabilities can exist with or without ADHD. The teacher normally works with the parents and doctor to evaluate a child for ADHD.

Be an Expert About Your Child

As you consider the factors described above, you may discover some specific problems. For each problem, what action could you take? Here are some options:

  • Change the environment or routine.
  • Work with the teacher and other school professionals who can help your child.
  • Talk with your child's doctor and other professionals.

Any information you share will help the doctor determine whether ADHD or perhaps another condition is at the root of the problem. As you seek help for your child, remember your input is valuable to all the professionals you encounter.

Kristin Stanberry

writer and editor for Schwab Learning, provides information, insight, strategies, and support for parents whose children have LD and ADHD. She combines a professional background developing consumer health and wellness publications with her personal experience of coaching family members with learning and behavior problems.

Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education, and consumer health/wellness issues. Her areas of expertise include learning disabilities and AD/HD, which she wrote about extensively for Schwab Learning and GreatSchools.