What Diagnosis Best Reflects Me and/or My Child: LD, SPD, ASD, PTSD, ODD, ADD/ADHD, TD, NDD, NVLD, AD, or Bipolar?

  • How-The-Brain-WorksI frequently think about having formal standardized testing completed during some day in the near future, to assess my overall learning profile. I wonder what my test scores would be? I wonder how they would be interpreted by the clinician that I chose to do the formal standardized testing? I wonder what diagnosis I would be given?
  • And what if I chose to have the same formal standardized testing repeated the following week with the same clinician or perhaps with a different clinician? I wonder if my test scores would be in a similar range? I wonder if interpretation of standardized test scores by the second clinician would be similar, at least in part? I wonder if the diagnoses would be similar or related?
  • Absolutely, many of us do clearly fall into specific diagnostic categories according to the DSM-5 criteria, specifically when defined symptomotology persists over time as described by many, and definitively impacts functioning across all environments. That said, on Monday, I struggled to attend because I couldn’t sleep all night. On Tuesday, I was lacking in executive functioning because our kitchen is being torn apart for renovation. On Wednesday, I was oppositional and defiant because my parents decided to divorce after 35 years of marriage. On Thursday, I was anxious because my sister is sick in the hospital. On Friday, I was preoccupied with thoughts about my Dad, so couldn’t remember anything nor participate fully in any learning activities. Saturday was a great day because it was just a great day, and I was 100% available to access and demonstrate my strengths! Can I have the testing done on Saturday? I hope so.
  • Differential diagnosis through standardized testing can be context-dependent, clinician-dependent, and based on individual variability in functioning within any given day/time.
  • Diagnostic categories do provide a framework for summarizing symptoms, often only demonstrated on a given day, but hopefully viewed through the eyes of many, over time.
  • Aside from a labeled diagnosis, it is important to remember that a diagnosis does not necessarily tell us about our own individual child’s developmental level, unique processing abilities, and individualized interventions related to maximizing progress and overall functioning.
  • Although a diagnosis can facilitate appropriate therapies and support, it is felt that the greatest gift of occupational therapy assessment and therapy, is understanding each child’s unique sensory profile, respecting/celebrating strengths, while at the same time supporting individual differences.
  • All the DSM-5 diagnoses’ focus on disorder, when in fact we could all probably fall into one or more diagnostic categories at some point in time. Each of us processes sensory information differently. Each of us learns differently. Each of us perceives and make sense of the world differently.
  • There is a known concept referred to as “muchness”, which is about paying attention and listening to what our children are drawn to, enabling us as parents to celebrate their strengths and encourage them to follow their passions.

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