Whose behaviour are you misdiagnosing?

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Getty Images

“What does it look like when you put [a traumatized] kid in a classroom? When people don’t understand there’s been a tiger in your life, it looks a lot like ADHD to them.” – Dr. Heather Forkey 

This quote comes from the last line of a recent article published about the misdiagnosis of childhood trauma as ADHD (you can read the full article here.)

Rushed doctor’s not taking enough time with patients, teachers and parents looking for a quick solution, families hiding the reality of their home life, and a lack of support for children experiencing trauma have all contributed to the possible misdiagnosis of ADHD, when in reality the child is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to trauma.

Which raises an interesting question for all of us in our everyday lives: who have we misdiagnosed with a rushed and incorrect label in our own lives?

We call the neighbor’s teenage daughter that “gets around” promiscuous (if we are being nice) and a “slut” (if we are not being nice).

We call the boy in the Motley Crue jacket, smoking cigarettes a “thug” and walk on the other side of the road.

We call the lawyer at the party, who pushes everyone away with her know-it-all behaviour, a snob.

The child who never has lunch at school and wears old, torn clothes “just comes from a poor family”.

The bully in the playground is “big for his age, and pushy”.

The little boy, bouncing off the walls at the grocery store while his mother screams “must have ADHD”.

What if each of these people has a deeper story that we are ignoring?

Dr. Nicole Brown, Dr. Heather Forkey and their colleagues are working hard to change the landscape of ADHD diagnosis, hoping that they can teach professionals to look deeper, go beyond the quick and simple diagnosis and find what may really be going on with some of these kids.

You may not be a professional, but doesn’t taking more time and going deeper with your own “diagnosis” of people seem like a good idea?

How could your life, and their life, be different if you did?


Love & light,

Jeremie Miller