My son who is in fourth grade has just been diagnosed with ADHD. Both his teacher and doctor agree. I also agree that he is overactive and has trouble focusing. He is starting to have problems with his schoolwork and friendships even though he is a very bright and loving child. I can see that he needs some help, but I am also very concerned about his getting “labeled” and what negative effects this might have on him.
You share a common concern of many parents whose child has just received the diagnosis of ADHD. In a sense, the diagnosis just tells you what you already know—that the problem behaviors you described during your child’s evaluation match the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, and that they are causing your child significant problems on a daily basis.
The diagnosis may serve as an entrance point for receiving different levels of help at school, and for knowledgeable teachers as a means to better understand and help your child. However, the diagnosis can be misunderstood by underinformed teachers or other adults who interact regularly with your child—but there is now a good deal of effort going into training teachers about ADHD and related disorders.
You and your child’s pediatrician can also contribute a great deal to this effort with your child’s own teacher in many positive ways. Community support groups like CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) can provide you with a forum for discussing this and a place to meet parents who have already had experience with many of these challenges.