“It is more important to do it right, than to do it fast”
If I suspect my child is struggling with ADHD, ASD, or other mood or behavioral disorders, and want to request for an assessment, where should I start?
You can schedule an appointment for an initial consultation. Visit Therapy Q & A for details regarding an initial consultation.
What will your assessment involve?
It will involve me meeting with the parents first, and then the child to collect information.
How long is an assessment?
A thorough assessment typically involves a number of sessions. Though I know you will want to gain clarity on what is causing difficulties for your child ASAP, I also want to underscore for you that it is more important to do an assessment right, than to do it fast! The result of an assessment is something that has wide implications and will guide decision-making processes on what will (and will not) help your child. Questions that you have about assessments will be addressed in the initial consultation.
Why does an assessment take so long?
An accurate diagnosis is the outcome of a careful process (see article); and, for an assessment to be thorough, it does take time. (A medical equivalent would be to run tests to determine what exactly is causing problems for you.) If we misdiagnose a child, we are doing harm to the child and it affects treatment outcomes when we are inadvertently treating the wrong thing. (To give you an example, anxiety can present as ADHD-like symptoms. And if we mistakenly put a child on ADHD medication when the child is struggling with anxiety, we put the child on the wrong medication, while leaving the underlying anxiety untreated.) The take-away message is that for a diagnosis to be accurate, the assessment process needs to be comprehensive.
What can I expect after the assessment process is completed?
I will meet with parents to discuss what I have identified as central issues affecting your child’s functioning. It is a meeting for me to explain my findings to you, and for you to ask me questions. To continue with the previous hypothetical example, if the ADHD diagnosis is to be ruled out, I will explain to you why your child’s anxiety shows up as ADHD-like behavior, and what the likely causes of anxiety are. We will also talk about ways to address the anxiety issue. If your child is found to have ADHD or ASD, I will explain to you what the diagnosis is about, what science has to say about the causes of the diagnosed condition, and ways to help your child.
What is the next step if my child is found to have a mental health condition?
Treatment will be the next step and we can talk more about ways to help your child. A diagnosis is not a life sentence; a lot of mental health conditions are highly treatable. The earlier we can indentify and address a condition, the better the prospects are for recovery.