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ADHD – To label or not to label ? – is that the question ?

How important is diagnosis of ADHD ?

One of the most common questions we see coming up on mums’ forums, and one that creates some of the hottest debate, is the question of ‘labeling’ a child as ‘ADHD’, ‘ASD’, etc …

Concerns about labeling a child with ADHD

We understand the concern that by getting a diagnosis of ADHD means your child is ‘labelled’. Part of this concern is how they will be labelled by society and the stereotype of what the label means to your child, how others will relate to him/her, and the assumptions they will make about him/her. The concern is that by attaching the label, peoples’ assumptions or prejudices will limit the choices or opportunities offered to your child, or some parents feel their standing amongst their peers will be affected by their child being labelled in what they see as a ‘negative’ way.

There are also concerns about being ‘labelled’ by the healthcare system, whether that be NHS or private, because a ‘label’ determines the pathway, limits the options, and treats the child as a condition rather than an individual.

Coupled to this laelling is the time that it takes to work through the healthcare system – typically 6 months for an appointment with a professional who is qualified to make a diagnosis – a long time in the development of a child.

Benefits of an ADHD diagnosis

On the other side, arguments are made that the diagnoses of ADHD opens up doors for support and treatment that would not otherwise be available.

Some parents and patients also take comfort from the fact that a diagnosis has been made – ‘at least I know I wasn’t making it up’ is a common reaction.

What’s right for you and your child is more important that labels

We suggest both views hold some truth, but neither is the whole truth, and there might be another approach that doesn’t require parents to make a hard decision between diagnoses or not.

The healthcare system has to deal with incredible complexity. The only way the system can cope with this complexity is to categorise conditions and identify treatment approaches to these conditions. These categories or ‘labels’ come in many forms but the diagnosis of ADHD is one of them. Diagnoses determine the care pathway that is offered, and medication for ADHD on the NHS is only offered if a diagnosis is in place. So a diagnosis is critical for certain treatment pathways, but it’s also true that the pathways can be quite limited depending on the diagnosis.

Our advise is to understand the end to end pathways available and persue the one that makes the most sense to you.

You might decide to proceed through the diagnoses path: GP => Referral screen => Paediatrician/Psychiatrist => Diagnosis => Medication and accept that any parental decisions are suspended for 6 months whilst the process progresses.

You might decide to have a neurofeedback consultation with BrainTrainUK and move forward straight away with a Neurofeedback programme. BrainTrainUK does not require any diagnosis in order to help, one reason for this is we don’t regard brain dis-regulation as a disease. We believe that dis-regulation can show itself through a variety of symptoms, and that neurofeedback training for self-regulation can remedy many symptoms. Remember you could still progress through the system, but we would expect you would see positive results before you achieved a diagnosis.

Whichever route you decide to go, we wish you well in making the right decision for you and your child, regardless of any labels.

To discuss the ADHD diagnosis process, and/or find out if Neurofeedback from BrainTrainUK can help you or your loved one, please call us today on 0330 111 3299. Your initial consultation is free and you are under no pressure or obligation to proceed.