Test anxiety can be debilitating, and is becoming increasingly prevalent due to the importance we place on test scores, the insane level of competition among students to earn top grades, and the resulting pressure that students place on themselves. There is no single profile of a student who suffers from test anxiety; it can happen…Details
It’s interesting that I would find myself advocating for the gifted, given my own adverse early experience with the gifted education program in grade school. Back then, the program was called Mentally Gifted Minors (MGM); literally correct, but politically… not so much. Two months into the 3rd grade, the children who had spent the last…Details
Can video games cause ADHD? Not a chance. The idea that video games cause ADHD is a myth; however, they certainly don’t help matters either. Kids with ADHD (and many children without the disorder) can “hyperfocus” on video games because of the fast pace, instant gratification, and frequent reinforcement. There is constant movement, engaging graphics….…Details
Unfortunately, there is no single test (psychological test or brain scan) that can accurately diagnose ADHD. Adding to the confusion is the fact that many different disorders can look like ADHD. My recommendation is a full psychological evaluation which includes a cognitive (IQ) assessment, an achievement measure, feedback from parents and teachers, and behavioral observation, as well as various instruments to rule out other childhood disorders with symptoms similar to those of ADHD. .
Hyperactivity is a relative term. Children present with different temperaments and levels of activity, and an active child is not necessarily a hyperactive child. Unfortunately, many a child has been placed on psychostimulant medication because the only criteria examined was the child’s activity level. There are many tools and strategies available for non-ADHD children who present with a high level of activity. A comprehensive psychological assessment is the most effective tool for diagnosing ADHD.
There is no doubt that medication can be life-changing if it is truly warranted. The most important first step is to get an accurate diagnosis. There are many childhood disorders that share the same symptoms, and it is crucial to determine the correct diagnosis before making any decisions about medication.
During my first contact with concerned parents, I ask many questions to determine to what extent the child’s functioning is impaired at school, at home and/or socially. Growing up is hard work, and most children will have some level of difficulty along the way. However, if your child is struggling at school, demonstrating serious behavior problems at home, and/or or unable to initiate and maintain social relationships, there may be something more going on.
It is somewhat uncommon (though not impossible) to find that a child who is struggling in school is simply lazy. School is such a big part of a young child’s identity, and doing poorly in school sets the child up for a whole host of negative consequences that will eventually impact his/her self-concept. There are few children willing to go through this just to get out of doing work. When I hear words such as “lazy” and “unmotivated” in reference to a young child, I immediately suspect something more.
It depends. A label, or diagnosis, is only problematic if it is not accurate. When we avoid labeling (diagnosing), we are doing a real disservice to children. Without a diagnosis, we can’t determine the appropriate treatment. For example, if a child is diagnosed with anxiety, there are specific things we do in treatment that might not be done if the diagnosis were different. If we are afraid to “label,” we are unable to streamline treatment, and the child may move from one treatment to another with no improvement.