QUESTION: ADHD or Sensory?

QUESTION:

I am seeing a child with a questionable diagnosis of ADHD.  He has decreased attention and retention of information. Difficulty remaining seated. At almost 8, he does not have a clear hand dominance. When tested, it appeared that he would be right handed, however he prefers to use his left hand for handwriting. He has not been tested for ADHD, so how/what would I need to be looking at from a sensory standpoint to see if it is sensory?

GWEN’S ANSWER:

ADHD and sensory processing disorder have such similar symptoms that I sometimes wonder if they are one and the same diagnosis.

Here are my suggestions:

1. Fill out the Sensory Symptoms Checklist on www.sensationalbrain.com under the FORMS tab.
2. Create a sensory diet (BrainWorks can help with this!) to address the sensory needs that the checklist reveals. With a checklist like this, remember that you are looking for an overall pattern, so don’t worry about individual symptoms. It’s common to be UNDER-responsive in some areas and OVER-responsive in other areas.
3. Pick a two or three target behaviors to take some data on before implementing the sensory diet. For this child, it sounds like staying in his seat would be a good target behavior. You can find data-tracking instructions and forms under the FORMS tab also.
4. Implement the sensory diet and then take data again on the specific behaviors you are targeting after a month. If you see improvement, you can feel fairly certain that his overriding issues are sensory in nature. If you don’t see much change, he may be a child who would benefit from treatment for ADHD.

Keep me posted!

Best Wishes,
Gwen