Sunday, September 18, 2011

Diagnosis Confusion

During the week when I was at an appointment I had a think about the assumptions that we can make or that professionals or teachers can make about our children by their behaviour. This appointment I had a bad experience and the therapy assistant seemed quite frustrated with different aspects of my son's behaviour (please note this was inappropriate frustration). All of which could be easily understood if one has an understanding of SPD. Now my son's behaviour was quite mild, but it was very interesting the therapy assistant commented on the way he sat, was upset that he scratched his nails on the mat, that he didn't sit still on the floor, found it hard to concentrate, then he was instructed on how to hold his pencil (and so was I) then he struggled with understanding the questions, got distracted by other noises. All of which the cause can be pinpointed back to his diagnosis of SPD. Imagine if the symptoms were not mild what type of assumptions could be made about my child and most likely has by other children.

Carol Stock Kranowitz author of 'Out of Sync Child' and a renowned expect on Sensory Processing Issues makes an comparison between SPD and ADHD. Carol defines SPD as "the inefficient neurological processing of information received through the sense, causing problems with learning, development and behaviour". What is noted is that some of the dominant symptoms of SPD can be inattention, impulsivity and fidgety movement. These symptoms can sound similar because they are also used to describe ADHD. However the difference is huge, ADHD is defined as a neurological syndrome characterized by serious and persistent inattention and impulsivity. When constant, fidgety movement (hyperactivity) is an additional characteristic, the syndrome is called Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADHD)." One can be mislead into believing that a child has ADHD or ADD when it is not the case and unfortunately be treated incorrectly including the use of medication.

My experience with the therapy assistant convinced me of a view things, we can not afford to be too serious with children instead we must have fun, it sounds so simple doesn't it. One must think do I need to mention this, is this a real issue? Or is this what I am here for? Then what was more scary, what assumptions can a therapist, teacher, parent make that can lead to incorrect treatment and a delay in future progress. What bothered me the most is that by simply knowing that SPD is an issue (which should have been communicated the therapists and the OT work in the same department and use the same file), then accommodations can be made that will lead to better outcomes and a happier experience for all.

For those who want some light reading, please check out this short essay where I got some of my information from for this article. Sensory Processing Disorder vs. Attention Deficit Disorder by Carol S Kranowitz.

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