Preventing Classroom-Teacher Bias-ADHD Misdiagnosis


Once a child has been labeled as ADHD, whether he or she is actually ADHD or not, it’s virtually impossible to remove that label.

The best way to unstick the almost super-glued ADHD label in a child or teen “suspected” of ADHD is to prevent it from being applied in the first place. The old saying: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is very true in this case.

One child misdiagnosed as ADHD is one too many!

So how can you prevent a teacher or fellow classmates from mislabeling your child with ADHD?

  • Anticipate problems by talking to your child’s next teacher in advance. Do not wait for the teacher to phone you-take the first step in explaining your child’s behavior traits to his new teacher. He or she will be less likely to feel bias even if they have been “warned” by previous teachers.
  • Explain how your son’s or daughter’s doctor has evaluated your child’s behavior, what the diagnosis is-if any- and whether or not he or she has undergone some type of therapy.
  • Ask him or her not to label your child by warning the next teacher or biasing them with an unconfirmed diagnosis and label.
  • Explain what you think a label and classroom bias could do to your child-many teachers don’t know the hazards of ADHD misdiagnosis. Loss of self-esteem is just one of the many explained in Mistaken for ADHD.
  • Prepare your child by explaining what others might think of his or her behavior and give them tips on handling their behavior.
  • Ask your child’s teacher to notify you directly-not by a note sent home with your child-when he or she misbehaves or acts up-not to wait until report card time and to please explain exactly what your child’s unacceptable behavior is in detail-not using descriptions such as “just cutting up” or “distracting the class”.

Remember that ounce of prevention? Well…in your child’s case, your dedicated little bit of footwork in advance just might prevent him or her from being labeling a failure in life and actually “living down” to that label!

In my next post: How to organize your child in advance of the start of school.

Dr. Frank

P.S. Thought you might like to take a look at these articles on Teacher Bias and ADHD:
Modeling Rater Disagreement for ADHD: Are Parents or Teachers Biased? 

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