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.
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.
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.
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.