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Psychological services for internationally adopted children
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Q: Why is it so difficult to diagnose ADHD in post-institutionalized children?

A: International adoptees are more difficult to diagnose because of:

  • Insufficient knowledge of their pre- and post-natal circumstances and developmental milestones;

  • Behaviors that resemble current criteria for ADHD, which can be the result of many other conditions (e.g.: anxiety, stress, etc.) Early diagnosis may work to the disadvantage of a child when a more refined understanding is reached. At the same time, there are clearly children, for whom an early diagnosis will make a huge difference. A competent evaluator should examine such issues as sensory, behavioral, emotional difficulties, learning style, temperament, history of illness and stress, background (birth parent history, orphanage history), developmental history, impressions from multiple environments (home, school, sports, social world, care providers). The child may respond variably in different environments. Observing your child across different environments and getting as knowledgeable as you can about the different possibilities is going to take time and will need to be an ongoing feature of your parenting. Also, it is a mistake to think in terms of "what is the singular cause of this behavior" and not "what are the multiple causes."


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Last update on May 8, 2018