When Seeking a Diagnosis

06 August 2015

Often as an paediatric occupational therapist, I get clients coming to me seeking clarification about their child’s state of development. This may include answering a few questions, doing a formal assessment, and writing up a report. Or, it may be contributing to their journey to seek out a formal diagnosis of some sort.

In a similar fashion I often get parents asking ‘what their child has’, and at the end of an assessment I’ve been asked: “So, what are we calling this?.... SPD? ASD? ODD? ADHD?” (insert any other combination of letters of the alphabet here).

Firstly, from a legal and formal perspective, Occupational Therapists cannot formally diagnose any disorder under the DSM. Secondly, if my report was contributing to the paediatrician’s (or other qualified health professionals) formal diagnosis, it is not my role to give my client a tentative “Well I am thinking it might be ASD” without strong evidence to suggest this.

Often this can leave clients confused and feeling helpless – why did they just spend all that time and money on an OT assessment not to get an answer?

My response to this is: we provide answers, simply in a different format!

We cannot provide a direct black and white diagnosis for your child. But we do provide a clear overview and summary of your child’s strengths and challenge areas.

There are many pros and cons of seeking a diagnosis, and some considerations are:

Factors to consider when seeking a diagnosis

  • In the eyes of the government and certain funding bodies, a formal diagnosis is required to gain access to funding packages. Talk to your trusted health care professional at KinderCloud about your options.
  • Certain schools and educational facilities are unable to provide specialist help and assistance unless a formal diagnosis is provided. Talk to your school about what is needed to set up support for your child.
  • Some parents and carers may see a diagnosis as a ‘negative label’ of which their child may be perceived negatively in social contexts. Alternatively, some parents may see this ‘label’ as a positive and empowering tool for their child to help them understand their uniqueness.
  • Some parents and carers may be seeking a diagnosis for closure or better understanding. Some may feel a sense of relief after gaining a diagnosis.
  • Some parents may feel fear, frustration and anxiety after receiving a diagnosis. Understand that it is a journey and to seek emotional support when required. Our counsellors at KinderCloud are equipped to help you better understand your child’s diagnosis and how to deal with the emotions associated with it.

Ultimately it is a very personal decision, and in general, not an easy one. It is best to talk to people who you trust and support you. This can be family, friends, partners or health professionals, for example.

Written by

Aimee York

Aimee York is the Director and Principal OT of KinderCloud. She is experienced in the assessment and intervention of children and adolescents. In particular, Aimee has a special interest area of working with children and adolescents who experience difficulties with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Global Developmental Delays, attention and behavioural difficulties, social skills, functional skills (including toileting and feeding), School Readiness and pre-school academic skills, gross motor skills, fine motor skills and sensory processing. www.kindercloud.com.au

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