Question:

I am seeing a child with a questionable ADHD diagnosis. He has decreased attention and retention of information and difficulty remaining seated. At almost 8, he does not have a clear hand dominance. When tested, it appeared 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?

Answer:

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

  1. Fill out the Sensory Symptoms Checklist under the “Free Printable Forms” heading. 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.
  2. Pick two or three target behaviors and collect data before implementing the sensory diet. For this child, it sounds like staying in his seat would be a good target behavior. Data-tracking instructions and forms are also downloadable under the “Free Printable Forms” heading.
  3. Create a sensory diet to address the sensory needs the checklist reveals. If you’re not a member yet, BrainWorks can help with this!
  4. Implement the sensory diet.
  5. After a month, take data again on the specific behaviors you targeted. 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