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Unlocking Potential: The Vital Importance of Diagnosis for ADHD



student reading the newspaper and smiling

Understanding ADHD:

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects people regardless of age, gender, or upbringing. It impairs one's ability to exercise self-control. While the root causes of this disorder are still being researched, experts have discovered links between ADHD and the underdevelopment of certain brain regions, such as the prefrontal cortex, in both children and adults with the condition.


It's important to understand that individuals, especially children with an ADHD diagnosis, may exhibit actions that could be misconstrued as indolence, impertinence, rebellion, or inadequate ability. However, these actions are actually a result of struggling with self-regulation, which often stems from a developmental delay.


The Dangers of Going Undiagnosed with ADHD:

Both children and adults with ADHD enact less inhibition and impulse control. They cannot often consider consequences and make decisions without weighing the possible future outcomes first.


In a classroom setting, this may be blurting out responses instead of raising hands, talking to other students rather than focusing on work, and walking away from their desks. It may present as a refusal to work on an assignment or as a problem with comprehension. In all the scenarios above, students with undiagnosed ADHD cannot explain their behavior or be understood. A student with undiagnosed ADHD is at a greater risk of falling through the cracks in school, with little hope for classroom accommodations or modified assignments.


high school student with ADHD, unable to focus, sitting on the back of a desk improperly

Unfortunately, because the behaviors linked to individuals with ADHD are often seen as disruptive, thoughtless, or disobedient, many children with ADHD have experienced punishment and shame by authority figures and peers more often than neurotypical children. In cases where ADHD presents as the inattentive type, challenges with internal self-regulation may cause poor academic performance, affirming a false belief of incapability.


The psychological effect of ongoing criticism or academic failure can take a heavy toll on the self-esteem of those with undiagnosed ADHD. Without resources to build skills in their areas of deficit, and the self-awareness to be their own advocates, they are less capable of meeting their potential, achieving goals, and thriving in life.


But the emotional concern is not all to consider for children with undiagnosed or untreated ADHD. Outside of school, individuals with ADHD are more likely than others to engage in risk-taking behaviors, are involved in more accidents, and are more often injured.


Should I Have My Child Evaluated?

You may consider having your child evaluated for ADHD if they exhibit inattentiveness, restlessness, impulsive behavior, or social concerns for an extended period. Consult your child’s primary care physician as other medical conditions or mental and neurological disorders could cause their symptoms and provide a proper diagnosis. More information about when to have your child tested can be found at CHADD.org (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).


Where Can I Have My Child Tested?

Evaluations for ADHD can be done by a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. health professionals, including psychologists, neuropsychologists, or primary care physicians.


Parents can obtain questionnaires from their primary care doctor or school psychologists for teachers and parents to complete. In many cases, a primary doctor will review and prescribe medication.


Additional Resources for ADHD Evaluations:

Kennedy Kreiger- Baltimore, MD



What’s the Good News?


Having an ADHD diagnosis doesn’t have to be negative; it can be a superpower if channeled constructively.


ADHD is most commonly treated with therapy, skill building, medication, and school intervention. Many resources for families nationwide include support groups, parent training, specialty schools, and more.


If you have a student in the Eastern Shore or Annapolis area who may have ADHD, you can now enroll them in Wye River Upper School. This school offers a college-preparatory education that is customized to meet the unique needs of students with different ways of thinking, including those with ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, ASD, and more. Wye River Upper School has successfully transformed the lives of students with learning differences.




Having a diagnosis is the first step in creating a happier, healthy life. It allows parents and individuals with ADHD a better sense of self-understanding, the ability to become advocates for themselves, the chance to find learning styles that work, and an opportunity to grow socially and emotionally confident.


 

Resources:


“What Should Parents Look For In A Good Evaluation For ADHD.” All Things ADHD Podcast. CHADD/PodBean. https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-phu8i-d3696b. February 20, 2020.



Barkley, Ph.D., Russell A. (2022) Taking Charge of ADHD, The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents. New York, New York. The Guilford Press.



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