Children are heading back to school again. And we are all doing our best to make sure everything will go OK.
As the dust begins to settle after the rush of the new school year, you may wonder if it’s time for an ADHD evaluation for your child or a child under your care. Or, perhaps last year was a particularly challenging year and you want to get an evaluation before everything starts up.
As you work through the right decision about when to get an evaluation, here are a few thoughts to help you along the way.
Allow for the Natural Back-to-School Transition
The goal of this article isn’t to look for ADHD behind every bush. Nor is it to make every parent or caregiver worry that a specific child may have ADHD.
As the new school year begins, it’s important to mention that life transitions aren’t easy for anyone. Imagine your first day on a new job. It’s going to take a while to adjust to everything.
For children, the new school year can evoke many of the same feelings you’d have upon stepping into a new career (all the more if the child is entering an entirely new school).
“Will I get along with my coworkers?” Substitute peers instead of coworkers in a child’s case.
“Will my boss be happy with my work?” Exchange teacher for boss in a child’s situation.
“Will I fit in with my coworkers?” This is a huge question mark children have about their peers.
Children can’t easily change schools like you can change jobs if things don’t turn out that great. In many cases, they’re kind of stuck.
In light of these concerns, it’s going to take some time to adjust. Regardless of the child, a new school year is a big change.
First, let’s make something clear. If you’ve seen a child struggle in past years, it’s understandable that you don’t want to prolong that difficulty.
Maybe you’ve had past discussions with family, the child, and the child’s previous teachers. There could be a reoccurring opinion that the child needs some additional help to handle the demands of school.
In that case, it may make the most sense to come in for an evaluation before the school year begins or shortly thereafter.
However, consider the possibility that ADHD symptoms (e.g. hyperactivity, impulsivity, hard time concentrating, hard time getting going in the morning, etc.) may simply be the result of natural transitional stress. Some of the stress associated with transitions can mimic the symptoms of ADHD.
The most common ADHD mimicking culprits include trouble waking in the morning and difficulty completing homework assignments.
In most cases, it’ll be a waiting game to see if the child rebounds after a few weeks or continues to struggle.
Common ADHD Symptoms in Children
It takes the assessment of a professional to determine if a child has ADHD. That said, you may observe some symptoms in a child that cause you to wonder if an evaluation is in order.
In her article at HelpGuide, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. describes three possible ADHD scenarios found in children as follows:
“Children with ADHD may be:
- Inattentive, but not hyperactive or impulsive.
- Hyperactive and impulsive, but able to pay attention.
- Inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive (the most common form of ADHD).”
For an list of potential ADHD symptoms in children, you can visit ADDitude.
Identifying ADHD in Children Can Be Complicated
What you find is that the “class interrupters” are the ones typically fast-tracked for an evaluation (those most likely to fall into the third group that Segal describes). “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” as the saying goes.
But once you move further up the list, children with ADHD are more likely to be overlooked. Teachers and parents may wrongly assume that a child in the first or second group has a learning disability, for instance, when ADHD is actually the culprit.
This can especially be the case when it comes to girls. ADHD is often ruled out by parents and teachers when it may be interfering with their success at school. It can be a long time before they’re adequately diagnosed if they are at all.
Recognized girls’ ADHD expert, Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D. had this to say on the subject in an interview with At Health:
“Girls are undoubtedly under-diagnosed and misunderstood. Diagnostic criteria that are currently used were developed to identify boys and are largely inappropriate in identifying girls.”
In some cases, girls with ADHD aren’t acting out like boys. Girls also have a greater tendency to suppress their hyperactive and/or impulsive tendencies to fit in better with peers.
And as the first possibility of those three options shows, a girl (or boy, for that matter) may be quiet and calm but still have ADHD given their consistently low attention spans.
Again, because of the complicated nature of ADHD determination, it’s best to get insight from a professional.
Does a Child Need an ADHD Evaluation?
If you’d like to schedule an evaluation or call 202-570-7795 for a free consultation, our team stands ready to assist you.
No child needs to silently suffer from ADHD. We can help.