ADHD may be questioned when the primary concerns are related to executive functioning skills. This relates to a child’s ability to manage their attention and focus, body and movement, and emotion regulation. Children with ADHD may have difficulties managing multiple-step instructions, organizing tasks or materials, or sustaining attention. Some children with ADHD may also experience difficulties with impulsivity, waiting their turn, and managing their bodies.
Autism is commonly suspected when a child is experiencing social challenges, has difficulties regulating emotions and sensory sensitivities. Individuals with autism have a tendency to be repetitive in behaviors or interests and show a preference for sameness (which can also look like inflexibility or a tendency to be black and white in terms of their thoughts). It is often difficult for children with autism to communicate thoughts and emotions effectively, which is a common reason for referral.
Learning disabilities are often suspected when a child is not progressing in one or more academic areas as expected based on the academic instruction provided. Learning difficulties are a neurodevelopmental disorder with biological origins and tend to run in families. Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is categorized by difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition, along with poor spelling and decoding abilities. Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder of written expression that impairs writing ability and fine motor skills. Difficulties in math may indicate the presence of a specific math disability.
There are some underlying medical conditions or treatments that contribute to changes in memory, processing speed, attention, or other aspects of learning. Testing is often recommended for children with a history of brain tumor, sickle cell anemia, genetic syndrome, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, or seizure disorders. It is also recommended for children post-treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
It is often difficult to discern typical teenage angst from a clinical diagnosis of depression. Or perhaps your child is presenting with high and lows in mood, leading to questions about bipolar disorder or a disruptive mood disorder. At times, you may wonder if your child is simply choosing not to do a task or whether they truly can’t do a task. Regardless of the psychological question or concern, our comprehensive evaluation process will help give you answers regarding clinical diagnoses that may be impacting your child.
Accompanying intellectual impairments are not uncommon in some children with autism or other genetic or neurological diagnoses. Testing can be conducted to determine if a child will qualify for the Iowa Intellectual Disability Waiver program.