What if It's Not ADHD? How to Get a Correct Diagnosis For Your Child With Attention Difficulties
What if your child’s “ADHD” is actually an auditory processing disorder?
I vividly remember the 5th-grade girl who bounced into my office with the spirit of a creative genius and the energy of a border collie. She was bright eyed and verbally fluent, but school was a significant struggle.
Her parents were beyond frustrated due to their exhausting journey to find answers and a solution to stop her struggle. Teacher after teacher told them that she had “ADHD” and needed medication.
Listening to their story and reviewing the girl’s history, I was most impressed with her parents’ tireless efforts and the fact that they had never given up trying to find their daughter the help that she needed.
This precious child - Amber - told me how she had tried medicine but it “didn’t help” and only made the words on the page “dance more.” She said that it made her stomach “feel weird” and that “food tasted funny.”
Once I finished Amber’s evaluation, it became clear why the medication had not worked for her: she had an auditory processing disorder, not an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) is a complicated condition with three distinct subtypes, symptoms that appear on a spectrum of severity, and overlapping comorbid conditions that often complicate diagnosis and treatment.
Taken together, these factors mean testing alone cannot diagnose symptoms of ADHD.
Add to that lingering misinformation and myths in the medical and educational community, and the barriers to an accurate evaluation and medical care may seem impossibly high.
Auditory processing is one of the many underlying learning/processing skills that are critical to learning and functioning efficiently at one’s potential.
When any of these underlying skills are weak, it can stress the attention system, and look like ADHD. Unfortunately, this causes many students to be misdiagnosed and not get the kind of help that they really need.
Auditory processing is how the brain perceives and thinks about the information coming in through the ears. When the brain is not processing the information clearly and completely, it may be like having a bad connection on a phone.
The person is getting some of the information, but not all of it and is constantly trying to figure out what is being said. This requires an excessive amount of energy be spent on listening and often times the information does not make sense.
These students may spend a great deal of time feeling lost, lack confidence, and feel disconnected. They are smart but struggling.
Most learning and attention challenges can be dramatically improved or completely corrected. The first step is identifying the real cause of the problem. This almost always lies in the underlying learning/processing skills.
When any of these foundational skills (such as auditory processing) are weak, it can cause students to have to work harder, longer, and less successfully than they should. These underlying skills can be developed.
Does this sound like your child?
- Struggles to focus in a noisy environment
- Trouble paying attention in class
- Zones out in conversations
- Has difficulty following directions
- Fidgety and easily distracted
- Delayed response to questions
- Social, emotional, or behavioral problems
- Lower academic performance
This list is very similar to a list pertaining to ADHD, isn’t it?
So how do you decide if it is ADHD or Auditory Processing?
You have to find an expert who understands both and can get to the root of the struggle. Then find a solution to solve the problem.
An auditory processing problem is not a hearing problem. There is nothing wrong with the ears. But something is lost in translation. Auditory challenges can be corrected.
Remember Amber? Guess what? She's in her final year of high school now, just got inducted into The National Honor Society, and is set to begin the college of her choice this coming fall.
Why did this happen? Because her parents took these simple steps:
- Never stopped searching for a solution;
- Found an expert who understood ADHD and Auditory Processing and could distinguish between the two;
- Followed the Treatment Plan that was offered.
Auditory Processing can be fixed and the results are increased attention, decreased confusion, irritability, and anxiousness.
If you have a child who is struggling with attention or learning, can relate to the what I've talked about here, and you're ready for a real change, then the first step is contacting our office and scheduling an evaluation.
If you're dealing with a child who is struggling and you want to finally get them the help they need to succeed, we urge you to book a free 10-minute call with Kyra Minichan of The Cognitive Emporium.
The call is complimentary...simply schedule 10 minutes with Kyra by clicking the "Book Now" button.
10 MINUTES IS ALL IT TAKES