Five Common Diagnosis Mistakes
Not taking enough time. A thorough evaluation for ADHD can’t be done in a 15-minute visit. Rushed visits raise the likelihood that you or your child will be misdiagnosed, or that the doctor will miss a secondary diagnosis that may be important to treat.
Diagnosing the symptoms, not the underlying problem. “Physicians sometimes misdiagnose secondary symptoms as the person’s primary problem, without looking for coexisting ADHD,” says Patricia Quinn, M.D., director of the National Center for Girls and Women with ADHD. In many cases, when the ADHD is treated, the secondary symptoms -- depression or anxiety -- also improve.
Thinking that academic failure is intrinsic to ADHD. Many children with ADHD do well at school because they work hard, and teachers and doctors will not suspect they have the condition.
Thinking that a high IQ means your child doesn’t have ADHD. Your child may score well on an IQ test, but her grades are mediocre and teachers “diagnose” her as being lazy or undisciplined. An evaluation by an outside psychologist may indicate that she has ADHD and/or a learning disorder.
Sticking with a doctor you don’t like. If you don’t feel a positive connection with your doctor -- if he doesn’t seem to respond to you as a person or if he reprimands you for asking too many questions -- you won’t have confidence in his diagnosis and the ADHD treatment won’t go well.
Where to Go for an ADHD Diagnosis
How Experts Make an ADHD Diagnosis
ADHD Diagnosis Step 1: The Consultation
ADHD Diagnosis Step 2: Testing, Testing
ADHD Diagnosis Step 3: Learning How to Manage Symptoms