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Helping Pediatricians Get an ADHD Diagnosis (or lack thereof) Right

Recently the New York Times ran an interesting piece on current efforts to improve the ability of pediatricians to accurately diagnosis ADHD. This is an important effort, led by some of the leaders in children’s mental health, recognizing that it has come to fall more and more on the shoulders of pediatric practitioners, rather than child psychiatrists, to diagnose and possibly prescribe. It of course comes out of an increasing degree of concern about both over-diagnosis and overprescribing, and hopefully it will have a positive impact. There are certainly other mental health conditions that can lead to what appear to be ADHD symptoms, including trauma, and so being able to rule out these other possible bases for a child’s presentation is crucial. It is good to see a leading newspaper reporting with frequency of late on some of the complexities surrounding the diagnosis of ADHD and its treatment. As we blogged about not long ago, they recently wrote a piece about the changed views of many of the researchers whose work led to a diminished focus on psychosocial treatments for ADHD and an increased focus on medication. Here at Think:Kids, we feel that there is a great deal of value in helping adults understand kids’ challenging behavior and finding alternative, collaborative ways to solve problems and pursue expectations. While medication can be a crucial part of good treatment, we have a saying around here that “pills don’t teach skills.” In our book, this is the job of all the adults who interact with kids, whether they present with ADHD, another diagnosis, or even as typically developing.

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