When Your Child Has More Than One Diagnosis: 6 Tips for Parents

For us parents, putting a neat label on our children’s symptoms is not only helpful, but also important. We want to find out what’s wrong, because once we do, we feel we can get started on necessary treatments and services. We immediately connect with other parents who are in similar situations. We learn all we can do to support our kids.

But unfortunately, there are keiki who have symptoms that match multiple conditions. Or, he or she has symptoms that don’t really fit into a single category. Is it ADHD? Dyslexia? Dyscalculia? Dysgraphia? You wonder to yourself, how many dys-diagnoses are there? You feel discouraged at the doctor’s, because there isn’t a clear diagnosis. You feel alienated, set apart from other parents. You hope that a test result with come back with “the answer,” only to find that there isn’t just one, but many, many “answers.”

If that’s you, the first thing you need to know is that you aren’t alone. Many children have multiple, overlapping symptoms. 50 percent of children with ADHD also have a learning, language or motor skills disability. Many iof the children who come to us at Learn 2 Focus have 2, 3, or more diagnoses.  It's more common that you might think!  Here are some tips on what you should do:  

1. Connect with other parents who are struggling with similar issues. Yes, you aren’t alone, and other moms and dads have formed groups that can give you emotional support and education.

2. Don’t ditch your pediatrician. Your child’s regular doctor’s job is to keep track of medical discoveries that might help you with a diagnosis. Keep seeing him or her and keep them updated of your child’s symptoms.

3. Find your child’s strengths. Celebrate his or her abilities. When you focus on what your child can do well, your child will see those strengths too.

4. Your child’s diagnosis might change multiple times. Don’t be discouraged. Remember, if you are trying to get health-care, treatment or education services, any diagnosis might be more important than a final, clear-cut diagnosis.

5. Keep an eye out for university or medical center research groups that might be conducting studies on your child’s specific symptoms. Searching online might be helpful, and utilize your parent support group as well as your pediatrician.

6. Meanwhile, do your own research. You know your child better than anyone else, and you might find something your doctor doesn’t know about yet. If you are overwhelmed with information, it’s always okay to take a break and then go back to it.