How to Question a Doctor's Diagnosis of ADD or ADHD
Choose the Right Team for Diagnosis and Treatment
Planning the Evaluation Instrument in the 1980s
© 2011, 2012, 2013; Patty Inglish, MS. All rights reserved.
The first answer to the HubPages Question concerning ADD/ADHD Diagnosis is that yes, some practitioners may diagnose these disorders more readily than others do and some of these diagnoses may be incorrect.
During five years of work in a private psychology practice, I evaluated children and youth for ADD and ADHD before an approved testing instrument was introduced. During another 15 years of work, I had opportunity to provide input into the evaluation of high school youth, college students, and adults for these disorders. Today, we have medical and psychological testing for these disorders, but by the mid-1980s, we still had only 1) a parents' checklist of behaviors, 2) teacher's reports/opinions, and 3) our own observations.
At the same time, Ohio became the first US State to award Social Security Disability for a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD. Unfortunately, this resulted in a few families coaching their children to "act ADD." One mother entered my office and began the interview by stating that her two children in the waiting room were both ADD and "so is the one I am carrying." This was uncanny, since we as a profession had no test for in-vitro determination of ADD.
Another unfortunate event was our discovery that what we first thought to be ADD or ADHD was actually drug abuse in some older youth and adults. Truly, any symptom might fit a number of conditions. This makes it important to see a physician about behaviors in one's child that are disturbing and work together with professionals in order to reach an effective solution or behavior management routine.
Well supervised support groups can also help parents and guardians decide on effective actions, including changing medical practitioners. Not all doctors can treat all patients effectively, so a "best fit" relationship, one that produces results, is needed. Do not settle for less.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information
- TotallyADD.com: A complete guide to ADD, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in adulthoo
Patrick McKenna and Bill Smith from The Red Green Show are ADD and manage it well. A complete guide to Adult ADD and ADHD and the documentary ADD & Loving It?!
- CHADD Live | Home Page
In one town where I counseled and coached in the 1990s, teachers were permitted to diagnose children on their own with ADD, even though they did not receive psychological or medical training or certification for this. They were also permitted to raise and lower medication levels on their own. When one teacher diagnosed her whole class of 28 students and precribed increased doses to "keep them quiet", a red flag went up to authorities that this was not an effective or ethical system of treatment. I am still aghast.
- K-5 Teachers Were Permitted to Diagnose ADD/ADHD in ...
During the first decade of my martial arts business in a western suburb of Central OH, the teachers in grades K-5 were permitted to label students with a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD (the attention deficit conditions) and adjust medication levels on...
When you cannot be a good example, you'll just have to be a horrible warning.
Asking Tough Questions
When a doctor (including psychiatrists) or psychologist diagnoses your child or yourself with ADD or ADHD, ask how he specifically came to that conclusion. What data did he or she use and why does it mean that the diagnosis is correct? Ask to see the test , the results , and the interpretation of the results. Ask how reliable the test is, how often it is correct.
When prescribed medication(s), ask what it does , what side effects it may have, and why it will work . Ask how long you will need to use it - a few months, or your whole life? Please ask all of these questions, because I have recieved prescriptions a few times that would have been fatal had I not asked questions. Asking questions of my doctor, nurse, and pharmacist saved my life as a child and as an adult. If you or your child are taking vitamins or health food supplements, please report them to your practitioner and ask if they will intereact badly with your precriptions. A friend recently died because of such interactions and you certainly do not want to lose your child or your life in this way.
You may want to suggest to your practitioner that you suspect that ADD/ADHD is not the correct diagnosis. Do some research and you might 1) ask him or her what it might be if it were not ADD/ADHD and 2) offer what you think it might be - you might help find a better diagnosis. Then discuss both sides of the issue and listen to your doctor. This is all ethical within the doctor-patient relationship, but it is not ethical or effective to discuss this with non-practioner non-experienced friends and strangers. You might want to share your expereince with your support group, though.
If, in the end, you are uncomfortable with your doctor's final diagnosis, seek a second and third professional opinion. Change practitioners, if necessary.
The research of the last 10-15 years suggests that many mental health conditions are related in one way or another neurologically: ADD, ADHD, Tourettes, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, some of the conditions on the Autism Spectrum, some Drug Abuse symptoms, even a few symptoms of the several Personality Disorders, and others. We may yet find that they are all caused by genetic inheritance and can be cured. Until then, ask questions of practitioners, support group members, national and local ADD associations, and any lecturers on the subject that come to your town; then share your experiences in your support group to help others. Maintain effective communication with your or your child's physician or psychologist and continue to share your information and questions.
In all of these actions and decisions, don't discount the usefulness and power of prayer support and/or positive thought from your local house of faith, a prayer chain, even Facebook prayer partners or other supportive communities. You needn't feel alone.