ADHD and Autism: Why Is It So Hard To Get The Right Answers?

One of the main things we do at Ashkin Counseling is diagnose children with Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and then based on the assessment we develop a treatment plan. I hope I don’t sound like I’m tooting my own horn, but I am often really disturbed at the fact that so many parents when they find us, say we are God-sent. They say they have been looking for services to help them to figure out what’s going on with their child for so long, and they have faced so many obstacles and such limited resources. And just when I thought it was bad in Palm Beach and Broward, we are finding it to be even worse for clients at our Naples location.

Recent studies have confirmed that there continues to be a diagnostic delay for children with Autism and ADHD. The delay is the gap between first concerns about a child’s development, and their eventual diagnosis. In many cases parents say it can take anywhere from 3 to 5 years for them to get the answers they are looking for. Many report the delay seems to be caused by trying to find the right person to sift through the maze of possible symptoms that children with both autism and ADHD present with, in order to confirm the diagnosis. The first step for many parents is their pediatrician but they don’t offer the comprehensive evaluations needed to really determine what’s going on, and don’t always have resources to provide to parents. The problem is while they wait for answers their children miss out on the accommodations, services, and treatment they need to meet their full potential.

To make it more complicated the way that ADHD and autism can present in girls compared to boys can be different. The understanding of typical presentations of these conditions seems to be more geared towards the male presentation rather than the female and so it often takes longer to identify girls compared to boys. Sometimes, in ADHD, with a more inattentive profile rather than hyperactive or impulsive, it can take longer to pick up. It’s very obvious if your child’s climbing all over the table, but if they’re just drifting off in class, it can take longer for that to be picked up by people around them. And in autism, there’s a school of thought that females might be better at using compensatory or coping strategies that can sometimes mask some of their traits.

ADHD and Autism have been passions of mine back to my teaching days. Recently I have become certified in both ADHD and Autism and have helped my staff to become certified as well. So we are here as a resource if you know someone in need. Early is better. Answers are available. Resources are limited but within reach with the right guidance.

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