When parents have concerns about their child’s behavior or academic performance, they are often told by friends, family, teachers, and doctors that they should “wait and see” if things improve before seeking professional help. After all, maybe what is concerning the parents is “just a phase” or a developmental stage that will pass on its own.
Since kids – and the expectations placed on them – are constantly changing, there are times when a wait-and-see approach makes sense. For example, this can be a good method for when a child is initially adjusting to a new teacher or when there are major changes at home, like the addition of a new sibling.
In contrast, when there are persistent behavior challenges at home or at school, like difficulty following basic rules, difficulty getting along with classmates or teachers, oppositional behavior, or difficulties with focus or completing schoolwork, then a wait-and-see approach is not helpful and could even be harmful for kids who may have ADHD.
With the start of a new school year, parents are especially attuned to their child’s behavior and academic performance. So, it’s not surprising that this is the time when new or heightened concerns are often raised. It’s also a major adjustment period for kids, which means teachers and professionals may be more likely than ever to hand out wait-and-see advice.
The problem is that when kids or teens have ADHD, or suspected ADHD, waiting too long can lead to missed opportunities for social, cognitive, and academic development. The longer kids go without help, the more likely they are to experience excessive criticism, miss gaining important academic knowledge or skills, and miss opportunities to foster new friendships.
So, how long should you wait to seek professional help or an assessment for a possible ADHD diagnosis when your child or teen is struggling at the start of the school year? And what are the signs that professional help is needed? While there are no hard and fast rules to follow, here are some basic guidelines that can be helpful:
Finding help for a child who is struggling with behavioral, social, or academic challenges can be difficult. If you suspect your child may have ADHD, then your pediatrician can be a good place to start. School counselors can also be a great resource, especially when it comes to social difficulties. Teachers and learning centers, like Huntington, can help with academic problems in the classroom and during homework time. Lastly, psychologists and therapists in your area who specialize in ADHD or behavior challenges can be very helpful.
If the first professional you talk to dismisses your concerns or tells you to wait and see if things improve, then be persistent and find someone who can provide your child with the help they need now before too much time passes by.
Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.
Huntington Learning Center is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students of all levels succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington's mission is to give every student the best education possible. Call us today at 1.800.CAN LEARN to discuss how Huntington can help your child. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.
This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only.