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:
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.