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My 5-year-old son was recently referred for testing by teachers. We filled out forms and brought him to the pediatrician who promptly diagnosed my son as ADHD and prescribed Focalin.

I asked about other possibilities related to LD maybe being part of the problem as his skills are severely delayed (about 1.5 years behind other children). I was told it was possible he had an LD that caused him to lose interest and focus OR it could be ADHD that caused him to have problems learning. I asked how do we know which it is and was told the solution was to medicate and see if it works or not.

I described in detail his ability to learn and retain information verbally just not visually so much. I asked about testing for learning disabilities before we started medicating my child.

The pediatrician referred me to a developmental clinic who does not take private insurance, only Medicaid, and costs around $10,000 for a full screen for LDs. I need to have an alternative as I cannot afford this screen and am hesitant to make my child a guinea pig with medication that he may or may not need.

Please help - what do I do? What resources exist for us?

Thank you,

You ask good questions. Your son’s problems might be due to evolving Learning Disabilities or due to ADHD or due to both. It is important to clarify.

Did your pediatrician do a full assessment? Did he/she use the required criteria to diagnose ADHD? (Presence of hyperactivity and/or inattention and/or impulsivity that has been present for several years and that are noted at school, home, with friends.) If not, don’t accept the diagnosis.

I would suggest you find a good educational diagnostician, experienced with early childhood. You will not have to guess. If there are developmental delays or LD, testing will clarify. This assessment should not cost more that $1,500 to $2,000, depending on what is done. (I have no idea what a developmental clinic would do that would cost $10,000).

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