ADHD Misdiagnosis

1. Sleep Disorders

Kids with sleep disorders can easily be misdiagnosed with ADHD since children who are sleep deprived are often hyper, irritable, and inattentive. While sleep problems can co-exist with ADHD, it’s important to address common road blocks to a child’s sleep cycle to ensure your child’s behavioral symptoms aren’t solely related to a lack of rest. If your child has enlarged tonsils and adnoids, chronic ear infections, allergies, sleep apnea, or is obese, resolving those issues first can lead to better sleep and better behavior.

2. Moods

The moods of someone with ADHD approach suddenly and can dissipate quickly, often within 20 to 30 minutes. But the mood shifts of bipolar disorder last longer. A major depressive episode must last for two weeks to meet the diagnostic criteria, while a manic episode must last at least one week with the symptoms present for most of the day nearly every day (the duration may be less if symptoms become so severe that hospitalization becomes necessary). Hypomanic symptoms only need to last four days. Children with bipolar disorder appear to display ADHD symptoms during their manic phases, such as restlessness, trouble sleeping, and hyperactivity.

During their depressed phases, symptoms such as lack of focus, lethargy, and inattention can also mirror those of ADHD. However, children with bipolar disorder may experience difficulty falling asleep or may sleep too much. Children with ADHD tend to wake up quickly and become alert immediately. They may have trouble falling asleep, but can usually manage to sleep through the night without interruption.

3. Immaturity

It is said that children with ADHD are 30% behind their peer developmentally, like a 10 year old will behave like he is 7. But developmental delays and immaturity are not always related to ADHD, they can point to anxiety disorders or autism.

4. ADHD or SPD

Another condition often mistaken for ADHD is SPD. Some 5.3 percent of all kindergartners meet the screening criteria for the disorder. It’s hard for most of us to grasp the concept of SPD, so it’s not the first thing that parents, teachers, or doctors consider. Imagine being exquisitely sensitive to your shirt tags or the seams on your socks. That’s all you think about in school and you can’t pay attention to the teacher. You might be agitated. You might try to soothe yourself. You might be hyperactive. But it’s not because of ADHD.

5. Autism

Children with autism spectrum disorders often appear detached from their environments and may struggle with social interactions. In some cases, the behavior of autistic children may mimic the hyperactivity and social development issues common in ADHD patients. Other behaviors may include emotional immaturity which may also be seen with ADHD. Social skills and the ability to learn may be inhibited in children with both conditions, which can cause issues in school and at home.


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