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Do Teachers Overestimate ADHD

childA UK study discovers that while teachers are important partners to health professionals in identifying and managing children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), they may be over-identifying children with possible ADHD diagnoses.

Diagnostic criteria for ADHD require that the symptoms are present both at school and at home. School assessments are generally carried out by rating scales and school reports.

However, these may be unreliable, and a more structured approach should be taken to school assessment, suggests the authors of a new study.

A recent US study pointed to various school factors that may make teachers more or less likely to report ADHD-like symptoms.

The new UK study set out to determine how informative teacher-reported symptoms of ADHD were in the final diagnosis.

A retrospective review was undertaken of referrals for ADHD, or inattention in school, to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Team for the eastern sector of Tower Hamlets in London.

The diagnostic process and outcome was mapped for all the children. Of those for whom teachers suspected ADHD, an unstructured observation was performed by a CAMHS professional.

Between November 2006 and October 2007, 52 children were referred to CAMHS with ADHD-like symptoms. Enough concern was raised of 14 children to warrant school observation.

Of these, only five were diagnosed with ADHD, and one additional child was also diagnosed prior to a school observation being carried out.

The researchers comment that they are unsure why teachers may be over-identifying children with possible ADHD diagnoses.

They suggest that better educational resources need to be made available to teachers to help them accurately identify those children with ADHD, and that CAMHS teams should develop structured school observation tools or telephone interview schedules, so that identified children can be independently and expertly assessed in a classroom setting.

Source: The Royal College of Psychiatrists

Do Teachers Overestimate ADHD

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Do Teachers Overestimate ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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