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ADHD Diagnosis: How Important Is The Diagnosis…Really?

Posted Apr 08 2010 7:59am

Earlier this week I met with a colleague to discuss our views on ADHD and how we can really help make a difference in education, training, and support.  It was a really great conversation…very stimulating to the point that I was furiously taking notes the entire time.

But we got stuck…  My colleague asked me “At what point do you educate people on the diagnosis and the importance of HAVING the diagnosis?”

“……………………………”  Suddenly things got very quiet.

Most of you know by now how I feel about a diagnosis…  I won’t mix words here…but for me it’s sorta “nice to know” information.  At least that’s how I will start a conversation or how I REALLY feel about the diagnosis (and most diagnoses in general).

But this comment or difference in approach split the conversation.  We quickly kept dancing around the issue.

How important is it to have that diagnosis?  I mean…to really have it?!?!?!

We both agreed that there are two very distinct groups of people (more I’m sure in reality)…

  1. People who have life changing “a-ha” moment when they find clarity from the diagnosis.
  2. People who really don’t get all that excited or care…  They just keep moving on with life.

Now these are general characterizations for a reason…  I honestly know that deep down inside there are many different reactions to getting a diagnosis, or even the suggestion of an ADHD diagnosis.

But the question today is really about….  How important is to have that diagnosis versus understanding your differences and what that really means?

Can you have one without the other?

This is a very loaded question for me.  At the end of the day, I don’t much care what the diagnosis is…  At least if we are talking about ADHD.  I am more interested in helping people understand their differences and HOW those differences create challenges than I am nit-picking whether it’s ADHD or not.

BUT!!!!  At the same time…it is clearly important to me because otherwise I wouldn’t insist that people see specialists to get their diagnosis.

So WHY then is this so difficult?

Well…we know how complex ADHD is to diagnose properly.  There are co-morbid conditions that complicate a diagnosis, and there are many other factors that influence our behavior and how we are affected by life.

Plus there is the difference I experienced in my own childhood….  Being identified as “gifted and talented” and how my differences were encouraged and NOT seen as weaknesses.  Just from that experience alone I am convinced that differences are just that….  DIFFERENCES!!!!  They are NOT good or bad until you use them…  And how you decide to use them…

PLUS…there is just so much more to consider.  We need to look at the underlying cause of the behavior.  Is it really ADHD or is it the child?

And I think that’s where we got stuck.  Because I always encourage people to see a specialist to get diagnosed.  I think it’s critically important that we have an accurate diagnosis, or at least a clear picture.  BUT…I still want to know…

How important is that you have the diagnosis?  Is it more or less important to have the diagnosis versus understanding your individual, and unique challenges?

Let me know.  Clearly both are important to me…BUT I am a little stuck and am leaning more towards the side of being aware of your differences more than anything else.

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