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ADHD: Teacher vs. Doctor Diagnosis
Q: My five and a half-year-old granddaughter is in kindergarten. At a meeting, her teacher said that she doesn't pay attention in school or follow directions. The teacher said that when she worked with her on the day's scheduled problems, it seemed that the child had no idea what to do. The teacher suggested that ADD or perhaps small seizures may be the reason for the lack of attention. I did not take this as a diagnosis but as something to be looked into. Another teacher was quoted as having said, "In thirty years of teaching, she has never seen such a child." We are aware that she does have a short attention span compared to other children in the family but the teacher's remarks seemed rather strong and disturbing. Of course, her parents are upset and want to do everything and anything to help the child. What would you suggest for the next step?
A: Hopefully, the teacher did not intend her remarks to have the impact that they had. Hopefully also, this is not the first conference she has had with the parents and this is not the first time these concerns have been mentioned. You're correct that this should simply be taken as information on which the parents should follow up.
Since AD/HD and seizures both require a medical diagnosis, suggest that your granddaughter's parents start with their pediatrician. He or she can do some screening in the office, but may also want to send your granddaughter to a neurologist for additional testing. The doctor will probably also want both your granddaughter's parents and the teacher to complete some behavior checklists and other information.
You may also want to suggest that the school counselor be asked to go into the classroom to observe your granddaughter. In this way, her parents could get an objective opinion of what may be going on there.
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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.