Parents come to professionals in order to ascertain what is going on with their child. As a neuropsychologist, the two most common questions I hear are:What is wrong with my child? And How do I fix it?
A diagnosis will help clarify the symptom characteristics that the child exhibits which in turn will lead to developing the most effective interventions and accommodations for that child within the home, school, and private clinic settings.
Many times parents question the appropriateness of a diagnosis that was given to their child. It is important to understand that there are several factors that can lead a clinician towards an inappropriate diagnosis or a diagnosis that is not the best fitting based upon the child’s symptom characteristics.
How Assessments Are Conducted:
An evaluation constitutes several hours out of one day of your child’s life. Many factors impact the child’s performance during the testing, including;
- Lack of appropriate sleep the night before
- Being hungry during the evaluation
- Anxiety over the testing situation
How many of those factors contributed to the diagnosis that was handed to the child? Second, did the diagnostician receive or ascertain all appropriate information. Did that individual receive information from the school, past medical records, detailed information regarding the child’s early development? You are your child’s best advocate. As much as any diagnostician may know about the responses on the testing, the response to the testing as well as explanations for the testing has to gel with you. If you are uncomfortable with a diagnosis, ask questions. Explain to the diagnostician that the behaviors that were observed are not consistent with what is observed on a daily basis. Work as a team to figure out what lead to the discrepancy between actual behavior and observed behavior/test scores.
If you do not feel that your questions were answered with a diagnosis or are hesitant to follow through with the interventions that were offered, it is then recommended to seek a second opinion. Oftentimes a second set of eyes, even in the form of reviewing the report/test performance can help solidify the diagnosis that was given or help establish what additional testing/information would be needed.