Friday, November 27, 2015

ADHD Properly Diagnosed (James W. Forgan, Ph.D., and Mary Anne Richey)

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why seek a professional diagnosis? Why not just begin a homeopathic or behavioral treatment?” One dad, a prospective client of Jim’s, called and asked abruptly, “Why should I drop a grand with you to diagnose my son when I can just start counseling?” Jim explained that a thorough evaluation and proper diagnosis help determine the most appropriate treatment. 

Let’s face it: You can build a house without a set of plans. It may take a lot longer, cost a lot more, and have hidden problems, but it can be done. Likewise, do you think a smart general enters a war without a battle plan? Absolutely not. So why start treating your son for something you suspect but haven’t confirmed? 
The diagnosis serves multiple purposes. First, it may provide parents with a sense of understanding, which is often accompanied by relief. Parents may be relieved to know their child really does have something fundamentally different about his mind. The diagnosis also can help parents shift their mindset about their child. 

Second, the diagnosis may provide you and your son with access to school services. Most public and private schools require a professional diagnosis or an evaluation to provide any formal accommodations. Accommodations are adjustments such as extra time to complete tests or homework, seating near the front of the class, or frequent breaks. Furthermore, as boys with ADHD prepare to take college entrance exams, a diagnosis and a complete evaluation report by a qualified individual are required to receive accommodations. 

Third, the diagnosis allows you, if you desire, the option of trying medication. Not all parents want to try prescribed medication with their child. If you decide to do so, you must have a proper diagnosis before obtaining a prescription. Some medical doctors will write a prescription based only on their own examination of the boy without a psychologist’s written report. We recommend both a psychological and medical evaluation of your child before pursuing medical treatment. Both the psychologist and the pediatrician are important members of your son’s team. One of the secrets to success is that the stronger the team, the more thorough and accurate the diagnosis. 

You must educate yourself about ADHD so that you can advocate for your child. After all, if you don’t advocate for your son, who will? He does not want to go to school and fail, play sports and get yelled at by the coach, or be excluded from friends’ social activities because he says inappropriate things at the wrong time. Your son needs you to be strong, to be his voice when he is weak, and to encourage others to treat him fairly. Without you, your son can be at a great disadvantage in school, sports, friendships, gatherings, and life. You are a source of encouragement and support that is invaluable. Even though you will become discouraged at times, frustrated by his behavior, and embarrassed by things he does, you love your son—and your son loves you. Your hard work will pay off and you’ll feel rewarded. So let’s move on and discuss how you can determine if your son’s behavior is typical or atypical. 

Source : James W. Forgan, Ph.D., and Mary Anne Richey. Raising Boys with ADHD. Prufrock Press Inc. 2012 

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