Firstly: Why Do Misdiagnoses Occur?
The most common reason for an erroneous ADD/ADHD diagnosis is the dependence on observable behaviour as a primary and oftentimes, the only basis to form a diagnostic opinion.
Misdiagnosing children as having ADHD can have grave consequences for their performance in school & home, and may also mask other serious neuropsychological issues.
ADD/ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which by definition, involves the brain. Yet, the brain is the one thing many healthcare professionals neglect to examine when forming a diagnostic opinion.
ADHD diagnosis cannot be made solely on the basis of behavioural observation. A healthcare professional should never make a snap judgment regarding your child based merely on overt behaviour.
Secondly, a valid question to ask is – is it even ADD/ADHD?
There are many conditions that may appear to be ADHD, such as: the inability to stay on task & sit still, mood swings, being easily bored, unorganised, oppositional, and more. However, do you know that those symptoms could indicate a different condition altogether? Then, how do you know whether your child really has ADHD?
Read more about it below.
CAUSE vs EFFECT
Both kids are…
→ Easily bored ←
→ Unable to stay on task ←
→ Have mood swings ←
→ Unorganised ←
→ Unable to sit still ←
→ Oppositional ←
Child A and child B in the picture above share an identical set of behavioural symptoms. However, a detailed examination reveals that the drivers of their shared symptoms in the brain are completely different.
That’s the danger in relying on observable behaviour and how it can trip up even seasoned healthcare professionals. Overt behaviors merely reveal the “effect” of an underlying condition but little about the underlying “cause” of the observable behaviour.
A valid ADD/ADHD assessment has to include an examination of associated neurophysiological biomarkers to uncover the “cause” behind the behavioural symptoms of ADHD. In addition, a high percentage of children that manifest ADHD symptoms also have co-existing epilepsy that is not apparent from observable behaviour. Analysis of neurological biomarkers helps eliminate the possibility of comorbid epilepsy.
It’s important that your child receives a comprehensive assessment & therapeutic intervention using a scientifically-reliable approach by an inter-disciplinary team of experienced specialists for their treatment to yield results that are significant & enduring.
ADHD medicines may offer a brief improvement in performance – even in misdiagnosed cases – because ADHD meds temporarily give more energy and focus to all kids, and not just kids with ADD or ADHD.
However, there are no medicines that can “cure” ADD/ADHD. In addition, these meds may do more harm than good in the long term.
Read NBA star Chris Kaman’s story below.
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was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at 2 1/2, and then began taking Ritalin and Adderall from 3 1/2.
However, the medicines didn’t help.
“There was constant uproar with him,” Pamela Kaman, Chris’ mother said. “You couldn’t do normal things. You couldn’t go to the movies as a family. It would always turn into a big thing.”
“Growing up, I had to take the medication my whole life,” said Kaman. “It really bothered me to take the medication every day. I felt I had to take the medication to make me feel like a regular person. It was kind of backward.”
In 2008, Kaman’s misdiagnosis was discovered.
The medication that Kaman took actually had the opposite effect on him. How can it be?
So, here’s what happened:
Kaman’s brain diagnostic assessment revealed that he did not have the classical ADD/ADHD pattern, i.e., marked by “under arousal” signature, Kaman’s had an “over arousal” signature instead, which presents with very similar symptoms as someone with classical ADD/ADHD (see picture on the left).
So, Kaman’s brain was already working in overdrive, and the medication pushed him farther along the arousal spectrum.
After receiving the correct diagnosis confirmed by a brain diagnostic assessment, a customised brain training program called “neuromodulation” was designed for Kaman.
Kaman sits in front of a computer and if his brainwaves are at a desired level, he receives a “reward” in a computer game delivered via a TV screen. If not, the “reward” wil be withheld from him.
“It’s a very fast-paced game, and for me to be able to slow it down in my head, it really has been a lot easier and a lot less stressful in the games,” Kaman said.
His mind still works fast – but his improvement on the court, however, has been drastic, with Kaman showing an uptick in all aspects of his game.
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neuroscience-based ADHD solution
We now know that over-reliance on observable behaviour is one of the primary reasons for the misdiagnosis of ADHD. It poses a huge risk if it serves as the primary basis for prescribing medication.
In addition to behavioural observation, a reliable & valid ADHD assessment has to take into account multiple factors as well as offer a high degree of sensitivity & specificity for ADHD.
However, there’s a second issue when it comes to ADHD therapies. Most ADHD remediation therapies don’t address the underlying root cause of the condition. Training needs to address the underlying cause of ADHD.
Chris Kaman’s neuro-modulation training is an example of a remediation training program that offers specificity as it is guided by real-time brain data, and the result of training – measurable by quantitative brain data (qEEG), continuous performance tests, etc.
Brain Optimax’s assessment & therapeutic training solutions tick all the boxes for robustness, validity, reliability and being science-based & efficacious.
Check out the Brain Optimax difference:
We don’t take chances when it comes to helping children with ADHD. As a science-based practice, we offer only assessment procedures & therapeutic interventions that have been evidenced to be efficacious in peer-reviewed research journals.
Biofeedback, one of our primary brain behavioural interventions is vetted as a “Level 1 – Best Support” intervention for ADD/ADHD by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
A Brain Optimax assessment procedure – the neuropsychiatric electroencephalograph interpretive assessment aid has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Diagnosing ADD/ADHD.
All our programs for ADHD, including academic remediation & neuro-modulation training (including Biofeedback) can be fully customised to address each individual’s specific needs & brain profile to achieve the best possible outcome.
Our ADD/ADHD diagnostic procedure is comprehensive yet meets the gold standard in clinical assessments, going beyond observation to incorporate standardized psychological questionnaires, continuous performance tests, EEG & quantitative or qEEG analysis.
Brain Optimax is supported by an international panel of brain science experts including Neurologists, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and EEG/qEEG Diplomates that will help you navigate every step of the optimisation process – from assessment, consultation to program design & training supervision.
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Download our free eguide on managing ADHD symptoms & get invited to our priority waitlist to consult with a Brain Optimax psychologist & put your child on the path to overcoming ADHD.
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