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The Most Common Misdiagnosis in Children
27 Jan' 21

The Most Common Misdiagnosis in Children


The Conditions that Could Mimic ADHD in Children!

When you enter a primary classroom you happen to see highly energetic, boisterous kids making their teacher go crazy handling them. When a child is overactive, distracted and impetuous, it could indicate any of these two possibilities – it is either attributed to part of growing and is ignored or the child is been diagnosed with ADHD i.e., Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Are you finding it very difficult to handle your child? Is your child’s behaviour getting bad with every passing day? Is your child inattentive, disorganized, restless, cannot concentrate or complete tasks? You as a parent may think it is common in kids. But, if any doubt arises then the child needs to be diagnosed for ADHD, a psychiatric condition which may require special care. However, the problem is that in most cases the condition isn’t that serious that it needs a medication or therapy to treat it. It may be over diagnosed, leading to unnecessary prescription of medications that the child may not need at all.

What do you think the reasons might be why ADHD may be misdiagnosed in kids?

Conditions that could be mistaken for ADHD         

·       Well, many kids are misdiagnosed with ADHD mainly because they are immature. Several studies have shown that the youngest in class are more likely to be labelled as having ADHD. All kids do not mature at the same rate. Some kids may just be more restless because they are less mature. But most kids grow out of it.

·     Simply food sensitivity can cause ADHD symptoms. Certain foods can trigger hyperactivity or inattentiveness if your body is sensitive to them. Similarly, if a child eats some allergic food, the body will not run properly and that may affect the child’s behaviour. Identifying and eliminating offending foods can improve symptoms.

·      Children are supposed to get eight to nine hours of sleep at night as optimal for a healthy learning brain. Video games, social media and TV can screw up kids’ sleep. Lack of sufficient sleep can lead to difficulty concentrating during the day. Remove digital devices prior to bedtime. Let your child get adequate sleep. This will help your child reclaim their focus and attention!

·      Kids stress may not feel like a big deal. But it is very real and will affect their mood or behaviour. Parents find them hard to manage and teachers describe them disruptive or inattentive. Stress at home or a recent trauma can make your child act out at school or have difficulty concentrating which can be mistaken for ADHD.

·      Kids with vision or hearing problems are at an increased risk of being misdiagnosed with ADHD. Children with vision or hearing problems cannot pay attention in class, have difficulty focusing and completing assignments – all of which could mimic ADHD.

·      Highly energetic kids are sometimes mistakenly diagnosed for ADHD. Consumption of junk food items and sweetened drinks increases their sugar intake leading to increase in their energy levels that are hard to contain. And as the education system in India requires kids to sit in desks for long hours they are not able to utilize the energy. Moreover when kids get back home they sit glued to the TV or computers rather than getting outdoors. Parents should find ways to channelize excess energy.

·    Highly intelligent kids who are bored display restlessness, inattentiveness and fidgety which could be mistaken for ADHD.  Maybe the task was very easy they got bored or maybe it was too difficult that they ended up frustrated and simply gave up.

What do you think the signs of ADHD misdiagnosis can be? Despite medications and therapy there will be no improvement. And the child may also be experiencing the side effects of the medications that they have been taking so long. Yes, if your child doesn’t have ADHD the medications may do more harm than good. If a wrong diagnosis goes unchecked the child’s ability to function in the world is compromised, which no pill can fix.

On the contrary if this condition is not recognized or identified in kids this will lead to situation where teachers and parents reprimand them for no reason. This will over time lead to depression and greatly affect the child’s self-esteem. Not identifying the problem and addressing the issue can also impact the child a lot. Similarly, misdiagnosing ADHD cases and resorting to medications or therapy can also be harmful. A perfect balance is required keeping in mind that the child is in the developing stage of his/her childhood.


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