ABH Maryland

How to Better Identify Conditions That Mimic ADHD


How to Better Identify Conditions That Mimic ADHD

  • Mental Health

The number of children diagnosed with attention disorders these days is higher than ever, and the most common diagnosis is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD misdiagnosis is a growing concern when somewhere between 5-7% of school-aged children have an ADHD diagnosis.

ADHD Misdiagnosis: Common Disorders That Are Misdiagnosed as ADHD

Too often, well-intentioned parents or teachers assume a child has ADHD when there might be a more accurate explanation for their behavior.

Parents often notice with concern that their children are jittery and impulsive and may be failing in school, and they will assume that ADHD must be the culprit.

Parents should be aware of many factors that can affect their child’s attention. Below are some different cognitive and emotional conditions that parents should learn more about.

Processing Disorders


One well-known processing disorder frequently leading to an ADHD misdiagnosis is dyslexia, a language-based learning disorder that affects the ease with which a person reads. Children who suffer from dyslexia struggle to spell, read, and write and develop an over-reliance on visual cues.

Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder (PSD), often mistaken for ADHD, is a condition that affects a child’s ability to process and respond to sensory information. It may manifest itself in sensory-seeking behaviors such as bumping into objects or people, playing in muddy conditions, or rummaging endlessly through drawers. Children with PSD also struggle with transitions and experience emotional episodes. Therapists commonly diagnose PSD in children through counseling and parent interviews. 

Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is not a form of hearing loss. Instead, it is a disorder of the auditory system that disrupts how the brain understands what the child hears. It affects a child’s ability to understand this auditory information, and they often show difficulty with listening-related tasks, even if they hear instructions clearly.

ADP manifests as difficulty following directions, slow language development, and poor listening skills, all of which can impede success in school. A therapist who suspects a child has APD can refer them to audiologists or speech-language pathologists for assessment.

Emotional Concerns

Children also contend with emotional or environmental concerns that may, at first, look like ADHD. 

If you notice a change in your child’s behavior as they age, please have them evaluated by your child’s pediatrician. Here are some other factors to consider.


About 4.4%, or 2.7 million American school-aged children have been diagnosed with depression, making it an epidemic among our youth. Further, ADHD and depression commonly occur together, and 15% of young people with ADHD also have depression.

Children suffering from depression experience temper outbursts, irritability, eating changes, and problems sleeping and are often misdiagnosed as having ADHD. Have your child check with a therapist to learn more. 


Like depression, anxiety and ADHD also go hand-in-hand, and many young people suffer from both. Children with ADHD are more likely than their peers to experience separation, social, or general anxiety. However, anxiety could lead to an ADHD misdiagnosis, and the stimulants that doctors sometimes prescribe for ADHD can exacerbate anxiety.

Supporting Your Child

Understanding children’s various challenges should show that ADHD is not the only condition facing them.

Supportive parental involvement is crucial for raising healthy children, whether or not that child has an attention or emotional disorder.

Parents can help by creating a structured and consistent environment at home and reaching out to teachers and healthcare providers to stay in regular communication.

You can support your child’s holistic development by recognizing the signs and symptoms, seeking professional diagnoses, and accessing appropriate treatments.

Contact Us

If you feel that your child may have ADHD or experience one of these other disorders, you are not alone. Advanced Behavioral Health’s team of qualified professionals will guide and support you as you navigate the diagnosis process. Together, we can proactively address attention disorders and create a brighter future for our children.

Call us at 301-345-1022 or send us a message online here. One of our team members will be standing by to help you find the confidential consultation you need.

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.