|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

ADHD or ODD?

LD and ADD/ADHD Expert Advice from Jerome J. Schultz, Ph.D.

Q: My nine-year-old son was diagnosed with ADHD almost two years ago, but I don't believe this is his problem. He's very smart, but he doesn't know how to control his anger. In fact, he shows all of the signs of ODD (oppositional defiant disorder). I have him in counseling, but it's not working. No one at his school understands the situation, although I've tried to explain and even begged that we all work together to help him. Instead, they use it against him. I have two other children, work full-time, and go to college part-time. Sometimes I feel as if I'm going to explode. I want the best for my son, but I don't know what to do.

A: Thanks for writing. I'm responding to your question directly, but since I get so many letters from parents who report either that they or the school don't agree with a diagnosis, I hope my answer will help others as well.

Let's look at it this way -- if a medical doctor told you your son had diabetes and you didn't think this was the right diagnosis, what would you do? Right: You'd get a second opinion. And that's what you need to do in this case.

If you think your son has oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), this is a more serious diagnosis than ADHD and should be treated differently. You should ask your son's pediatrician to refer you to a child psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist who has experience with lots of kids with both ADHD and ODD. Tell that doctor that you need to have your questions answered and ask if he is willing to come to a meeting at the school to share his findings. If he won't, go to another doctor.

When you've found a professional who will help you make your case, ask for a meeting of the school folks. Also include the person who made the original diagnosis of ADHD and your son's counselor. Ask them to plan enough time to reach an agreement about your son's diagnosis. You want to leave that meeting with all parties "on the same page" about your son and his treatment.

Remember, though, if this objective third person (the new doctor) says that your son has ADHD, you have to be willing to place some confidence in that diagnosis. After all, that's why you're going there, right? If it is ADHD and not ODD, then it may mean that you need more support than you have right now to deal with your son. In that case, ask the school to help you find parenting programs or childcare in your home.

You say that the school doesn't understand your son's needs. Having an independent objective person at this meeting can help you communicate with the school. It may be that your son needs more help than the school can provide. He may need a special program in anger management, or he may need to be in a special therapeutic school for a while to help him gain more self-control. Finally, if you feel that your son's rights are being violated by improper or inadequate treatment, you can ask the Office for Civil Rights to get involved. They can sometimes add a voice of reason to a situation that's spinning out of control. The main thing in situations like this is to get all the players together and make a commitment not to stop talking until the issues get resolved.

More on: Expert Advice

Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is the founding clinical director of the Learning Lab @ Lesley University, a program that provides assessment, tutoring, and case management services for children with learning challenges. Schultz holds a Ph.D. from Boston College, and has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Tips for Reading Aloud to Babies & Toddlers
The AAP advises reading aloud to babies and toddlers because it boosts brain power and has many other benefits. Get some tips for making the most of story time with your tot!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

How to Survive Summer Boredom
When the kids are home all day, every day, summer boredom strikes hard and fast. Learn the best summer boredom busters and tips for surviving until September.

12 Birthday Party Favors that Won't Get Thrown Away
The next time you're planning a birthday, forgo the penny candy and cheap toys. Send your guests home with one of these fun and creative party favor ideas!