Is It Bad Behavior…Or ADHD?

    Misbehavior can look an awful lot like ADHD, and a great number of ADHD diagnoses are based on questioning parents and teachers. There is too much over-diagnosing of children with a label of ADHD. But be careful when observing very young children. It’s difficult to determine if behavior has an underlying cause, especially with a child under the age of 7. Very young children, particularly boys, have immature nervous systems and can often present as if they have ADHD.

    Address the Behavior

    ADHD is not an excuse for inappropriate behavior. Parents must establish firm boundaries while also showing understanding for the child’s challenges.The issue isn’t whether it’s bad behavior or ADHD but rather how to teach the child to modify inappropriate behavior. ADHD is a catchall diagnosis that is often contained within other issues. Teach your child to recognize unacceptable behavior and modify it.

    Consult A Professional

    Not everyone who exhibits hyperactive, impulsive, or inattentive traits has ADHD, so how is a diagnosis made? It is important that a child receive a thorough examination and appropriate diagnosis by a qualified professional. Since ADHD has a strong genetic link and tends to run in families, the doctor will need the child’s complete medical history.

    To rule out other medical problems, hearing and vision problems should also be considered, as they could contribute to similar behaviors.

    If ADHD is suspected, a specialist should be consulted for a formal diagnosis. Developmental/behavioral pediatricians, clinical social workers, behavioral neurologists, child psychiatrists, and psychologists are qualified to diagnose ADHD.

    These steps are recommended:

    •   Talk to your child’s pediatrician
    •   Make an appointment with a child psychiatrist to review specific ADHD symptoms
    •   Request a neuro-psychologial evaluation (from school, a mental health clinic, or private psychologist)
    •   A good evaluation will look not just at the possibility of ADHD but also possible learning disabilities that may make a child’s behavior look like ADHD.

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