Why Every Parent Should Consider a Complete Paediatric Assessment for a Struggling Child at School

Dear parents and teachers,

When your child faces difficulties at school, it’s often easy to overlook the signs or attribute them to ‘just a phase.’ But sometimes, the underlying issues are more complicated than they appear. In today’s blog post, we’ll delve into why a complete paediatric assessment is not just beneficial but often crucial for understanding your child’s struggles.

The Invisible Issues: ADHD, Anxiety, and More

On the surface, your child may seem perfectly fine. They chat with classmates, participate in extracurricular activities, and bring home decent report cards. But beneath that facade might lie issues such as ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety, or other emotional and learning problems.

You may have a family history of ADHD or other learning difficulties. Even if you don’t, that doesn’t rule out the possibility that your child could be affected. Especially with conditions like inattentive ADHD, the symptoms can be so subtle that they are easily missed. Teachers might not express concerns because your child appears to manage their coursework, but this doesn’t eliminate the potential problems.

Unwitting Over-Support

As parents, your natural instinct is to support your child. You help them with their homework, hire tutors, and give them all the resources you think they need. While this is well-intentioned, sometimes it masks the real problems. You may not realise that your help is serving as a crutch, enabling them to perform at an expected level but not independently. In short, they might be underperforming relative to their true potential.

The Domino Effect: Anxiety, Poor Self-Esteem, and More

The repercussions of unidentified issues can snowball. For example, untreated ADHD often presents itself as anxiety. A child who struggles to focus or complete tasks might develop poor self-esteem. This, in turn, can lead to other problems like obesity due to impulsive eating habits. These challenges can even spiral into sleep issues, which are another symptom often associated with ADHD.

Bullying: A Different Perspective

When it comes to bullying, there’s often an instinct to blame the aggressors. However, bullying often targets perceived weaknesses. If your child is struggling with any of the above issues and not receiving adequate support or intervention, they may unfortunately become an easy target.

Why a General Paediatrician Isn’t Enough

You might think that a quick visit to your regular doctor for some blood tests would suffice, but the truth is, these problems often require a more nuanced approach. Simple tests like thyroid or hormone tests, often conducted for low energy or sleeping issues, won’t provide the complete picture.

The Need for a Specialised Assessment

An in-depth assessment by a developmental neuro-paediatrician who is well-versed in these issues is essential. They have the experience and training to identify and understand the nuanced challenges your child may be facing. This can’t be accomplished in a routine check-up; it needs a comprehensive approach involving information from both parents and teachers.

The Rigour of Complete Assessments

These assessments are not quick fixes. They require collecting an enormous amount of data from various sources, including you and your child’s teachers. But they provide invaluable insights into the underlying issues plaguing your child, offering a roadmap for effective intervention.

Absolutely, let’s continue to delve deeper into this important subject. 

The Red Flags That Go Unnoticed

Often, the cues that something isn’t right are subtle and nuanced. Your child may be well-behaved in class but prone to bouts of procrastination and indecision at home. They may leave tasks to the last minute, leading to heightened stress levels. These signs are easy to dismiss as typical childhood behaviour, but they can indicate deeper challenges such as ADHD, learning difficulties, or emotional problems.

The Importance of a Holistic View

A comprehensive paediatric assessment doesn’t just look at one aspect of your child’s life; it takes into account emotional, psychological, and physical factors. It’s not uncommon for a child who is underperforming at school to be incredibly talented in another domain, whether it’s sports, arts, or social skills. An experienced developmental neuro-paediatrician can balance these factors and offer a more rounded view of your child’s strengths and weaknesses.

Identifying Potential Comorbidities

Sometimes one problem masks another. For example, a child with ADHD may also have an undiagnosed learning disability, and each can exacerbate the symptoms of the other. A detailed assessment can identify comorbid conditions and help devise a targeted treatment plan.

Time Is of the Essence

Children’s brains are more plastic and receptive to interventions than adult brains. The sooner these issues are identified and addressed, the better the long-term outcomes will be. Early intervention can make a significant difference in a child’s academic and emotional life, setting them on a more positive trajectory.

Parental Involvement Is Key

As parents, your insights are invaluable for a comprehensive assessment. You see facets of your child that aren’t visible in the classroom. Perhaps your child shows signs of sensory processing difficulties at home, being overly sensitive to lights, textures, or sounds. These observations from daily life contribute to a fuller understanding of your child’s needs.

Teachers’ Role in the Assessment

Teachers can offer additional perspectives that parents might miss. They observe how your child interacts in a social setting, how they approach learning tasks, and how they handle stress and failure. This external viewpoint can sometimes unveil issues or strengths that aren’t apparent at home.

Shifting Away from Denial

The inclination to avoid confronting potential issues is natural. No one wants to think that their child is struggling. However, avoiding the problem often equates to ‘kicking the can down the road,’ delaying essential intervention and possibly making future treatment more difficult.

Conclusion: Taking the First Step 

Opting for a complete paediatric assessment is a proactive approach. It’s a commitment to understanding your child’s unique challenges and gifts comprehensively. While it requires time, effort, and collaboration between parents and professionals, the payoff is immense. It offers your child the opportunity for a happier, more fulfilling life, both academically and emotionally. So if your child is facing difficulties at school, take that vital step. Consult an experienced developmental neuro-paediatrician who can guide you through this journey.

Related Articles

Managing Medications

Managing Medication for Children and Adolescents with ADHD* Individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience chronic problems with inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity to a greater degree than…

Managing Medications

Managing Medication for Children and Adolescents with ADHD* Individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience chronic problems with inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity to a greater degree than…

Further Information

Complementary and Alternative Treatments Overview and Principles In the past decade, there has been a tremendous upsurge of scientific and public interest in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder…