A warning to parents – watch out for diagnosis season

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — If it’s September, kids are back in school with new teachers at the head of the class, but the start of a school year kicks off another significant season.

“I warn every parent every fall, particularly as we enter right after Labor Day, that they are heading into what I call the ‘diagnosis season,'” said Boston Pediatric Psychologist, Dr. Anthony Rao, “As soon as kids go back to school and the pressure starts up and we the adults start getting serious, we start to see diagnosing and misdiagnosing in fact, begin to go off the charts.”

But that is not the case for Dr. Thomas E. Brown, a Clinical Psychologist at Yale School of Medicine, “Most teachers I see are not going to be calling for a kid to be evaluated the first month or two of school. They want to watch and see how the child adjusts to that classroom,” Brown said.

They look for behavioral issues like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. It’s marked by unfocused behavior, often leading to poor school performance.

“ADHD is not simply a problem with little kids who can’t sit still, wouldn’t shut up and are driving everybody nuts,” said Dr. Brown, “It’s a problem of the brain’s management system. It’s inherited. One out of every fourth people who have ADHD, one of them have a parent who has it, whether they know it or not.””

Built-in breaks during the school day can address the issue of misdiagnosis.  Dr. Rao explained. “What we find and the research proves this, that once you do that, kids come back in, they can sit, they can attend and a lot of these accidental diagnosis are not going to happen.”

Dr. Brown stressed, a thorough clinical evaluation, with parents and school working closely together, will clarify the situation.

“Is it an ADHD problem or problems with anxiety, or problems with depression, or problems with substance abuse?” he asks.

Brown added that the most puzzling thing about ADHD, is that those who have it, can pay attention to something in which they have a strong interest.  And that there are very bright children who do well in elementary school where they have one teacher organizing everything, but who may begin to experience problems when they reach middle school or high school, where the situation is not as controlled.

For more information — you can log onto http://www.drthomasebrown.com

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