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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Seeking the Proper Help

10/08/2007

Question:

I have a 5 year old who seems to be experiencing some of the symptoms of ADHD. His older brother (9) has been diagnosed with a mild case.

Who is more qualified for a diagnosis for a 5 year old? Pediatrician or psychologist? Thank you.

Answer:

I wish there was a straight forward answer to your question. Unfortunately, there is not. Particularly with the help of teachers and caregiver, the great majority of pediatricians and psychologists can diagnose straight forward AD/HD that is without major coexistent problems such as an anxiety disorder, severe depression, etc. Some pediatricians have spent extra time reading about or going to conferences on the diagnosis and could actually do better than some psychologists. At the same time, many psychologists have much more training in behavioral and psychiatric diagnosis, particularly if there are coexistent conditions, than the great majority of pediatricians. So, like so many things, it depends on the individual pediatrician and individual psychologist.

If you are wondering where to go for diagnosis, I suggest beginning with the pediatrician. Then ask the specific guidelines s/he used to make that decision. If you feel the decision may be incorrect, go to another professional but try to get one who specializes in AD/HD. If s/he differs from the pediatrician you can bring up the pediatrician's reasoning and see why the other person differs.

I wish you the best.

For more information:

Go to the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Susan Louisa Montauk, MD
Formerly Professor of Family Medicine
University of Cincinnati