Should Teachers Be Allowed to Diagnose ADHD And/or Suggest Medication?

Updated on September 04, 2012
E.A. asks from Brooklyn, NY
26 answers

Should teachers be allowed to diagnose ADHD and/or suggest medication?

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answers from Washington DC on

Don't believe they can diagnose and they cannot prescribe meds. What they can do is suggest testing and report what they're seeing in their classroom. Only doctors can diagnose ADHD.

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answers from San Francisco on

I think a teacher can say "i'm seeing all the signs" and recommend the parent to the proper channels for observation -- school counselor or psychologist, special services, etc. And the teacher can say "bear in mind that many children with these behaviors benefit well from XY medication but should it come to that a doctor will give you all the options." Anything beyond that would be overstepping bounds in my opinion.

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answers from Charlotte on

On the off-hand chance that this isn't part of a thesis or some other thing that you are doing, NO, teachers shouldn't be in the business of diagnosing children. They don't have medical credentials.


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answers from Pittsburgh on

But they are allowed to recommend that you have your child professionally evaluated.
As a parent, I would take that type of an observation from a teacher seriously.

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answers from Washington DC on

is this a real question?
of course teachers shouldn't and i don't believe they do. they can suggest, based on their experience with kids in the classroom, that it's something that should be checked out.
that is NOT diagnosing.

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answers from Hartford on

Teachers are not, by law, allowed to diagnose ADHD or suggest medication because they are not, by trade, doctors and can't evaluate for ADHD.

However, they can SUGGEST that your child be evaluated for ADHD and that they've seen treatments for ADHD that include medication work.

That's my short answer.

My longer answer:

Teachers can be invaluable in helping identify if a child has ADHD. Let me clarify. EXPERIENCED teachers. Now, a school can perform an evaluation at your written request during which you would fill out a questionnaire answering very specific questions. The teachers would do the same. The child would be observed in the classroom and the school psychologist would perform some testing as well. Those responses to all of those written responses would then be evaluated and the result would "subject likely has _____" or would state something else if evaluated for something else. If the child is typical, the evaluation would indicate such.

The purpose of such an evaluation from the school would be to help target the child's strengths and weaknesses and help establish a behavior plan for the child either in an IEP or 504 plan.

In addition to the school performing an IEP, it would be an excellent idea to get an independent evaluation from one or more of the following specialists: Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician; Pediatric Psychiatrist; Pediatric Neurologist. Any and all should indicate whether or not they specialize in behavioral disorders and neurological disorders that include ADHD, ADD, and others. They should all be competent in follow-up continuous care if it's needed. If there IS a diagnosis, it would be good to have it to bring to the school. If they feel your child DOES NOT have ADHD or ADD, then it would be good to have that in writing for the school as well.

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answers from San Antonio on

This is your third question on this website...and all three have been about ADHD medication. I'm curious as to why you're so curious about this disorder.

Teachers can't diagnose anything. They're not doctors. They do, however, spend a lot of time with children and can tell the parents, from their experience, that they feel the child might have ADHD and should be taken in to be evaluated. Teachers also can't prescribe medications. They can make whatever suggestions they want though, or again, from their experience, tell the parents that the medication needs to be adjusted.

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answers from Boston on

Teachers observe and suggest. They do not diagnose.

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answers from Houston on

They are allowed to tell you that they may suspect ADHD and that medication may be of use if the child is indeed diagnosed with a professional. I am sure that no teacher actually comes up with an actual diagnosis, but may strongly suggest during a parent/teacher conference they feel a child may be ADHD based upon their experience and the child's behavior, then it is up to the parent to take their child fro evaluation and diagnosis by a medical Dr.

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answers from Seattle on

God, no.

There are about 25 differentials for ADHD ... Aka things that may LOOK like ADHD, but are in fact, a completely different medical, neurological, or environmental issue.

That's why REAL ADHD testing takes so long (medical appt, lab work, home/life study, and then FINALLY a psych differential).

There are over EIGHTY ADHD meds on the market. PEDs should NEVER be Rx'ing ADHD meds (barring a few pediatric specialists: developmental peds, pediatric neurologists, pediatric psychiatrists)... Because they CANNOT keep up with over 1000 psychiatric meds for common disorders (ADHD, anxiety, bipolar, depression, PTSD, etc... A short list of 15 common neuro issues each with 50-100 meds available), MUCH LESS all the peer review journals, ongoing and completed studies, off label usages, etc. That's WHY there are specialists!!! Cardiologist for heart, neurologist or psychiatrist for brain.

Jumping OUT of medicine entirely and laying that responsibility on teachers is as ridiculous as firefighters performing open heart surgery... No matter HOW many heart attacks they deal with each week!

But teachers CAN generally spot a neurological disorder the same way a firefighter can spot a heart attack.

Doesnt mean they're always right. What looks like a heart attack may be PTSD, or a pulmonary embolism. What looks like ADHD might be malnutrition or bad parenting.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I think you are entitled to ask as many questions about the subject as you like.

This is an excellent question in my book. Whereas teachers see the kids everyday, and the doctor maybe sees the kid on a healthy kid checkup once or twice a year, I would say that the teacher would be in a good position to recommend you see a medical professional, NOT offer a diagnosis.

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answers from New York on

I don't know that teachers are legally allowed to "diagnose" anything but they are the ones that spend a large chunk of time with your child. I have seen teachers tell parents about sight problems, ADHD, even autism and if they are a good teacher they do so out of love for the child. Have teachers been wrong in thinking there was some type of problem, YES! but they see the child in so many types of situations that they are usually front line to issues. They may suggest meds simply because they have seen the good differences in other children with similar challenges. Teachers are not medical doctors but should they have a say in what they see YES!!!! That said how many medical doctors out there have diagnosed a child with X and after talking to the teacher realize it is Z. Or worse the child is "diagnosed" and it is wrong and the Doctor won't ever admit they are wwrong. Thats why a "second opinion" is ofter used in cases that the diagnosis is unsure. Listen to the teachers for advise and then go further before a diagnosis or label is made!!!!

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answers from Dallas on

Nope, absolutely not. As a former teacher, it was my job to teach and instruct my students. I am not a medical professional and I cannot diagnose anything. Now I can inform a parent of issues and behaviors seen in the classroom, but teachers have no business playing doctor. I can have my own opinions, but I often have a lot of opinions, and keep those to myself.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Teachers spend hours and hours and hours with your children. They see hundreds of children a year every day. They know what normal is. They do not have the qualifications to diagnose any issues but you can be sure that if the say they think someone needs to be tested they are seeing some abnormal behaviors.

It's the same as a bank teller who is getting training to tell fake money from real. They will have them handle hundreds and hundreds of bils of all denominations then throw a fake one it the mix. It doesn't feel right. With enough experience they can thumb through a stack of money and pull the fake ones out every time.

Same with a teacher. They see regular kids every day so when someone is having an issue they can pick it out and see it very quickly.

I would consider what the teacher has to say. She sees that child in the classroom setting every day and knows how they are struggling to focus and figure out the fugue that is their brain.

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answers from Washington DC on

This really feels like we're doing your homework for you. If you want a more personalized answer, we need more information about your situation. And if you're doing a poll or something, be more upfront about your motives.

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answers from New York on

This seems like an odd question. Only a certified physician should be recommending medication and making a diagnose

Of course, this may be completely out of context. Teachers do have some training in dealing with children who are effected by these illnesses. A teacher would be able to state that he/she sees behavior that indicates ADHD and suggest a child be tested.

When my daughter was little a teacher pulled me aside and let me know in a caring and concerned way, that she noticed behavior in my daughter that was a little off and suggested what medical conidtion she might have. I had noticed the same thing, but didn't think much of it. Because of her suggestion, I immediately brought my daugther to the doctor, the teacher was right.

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answers from Tulsa on

Only if they are also a MEDICAL doctor.

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answers from Victoria on

i think ppl missunderstood your question. i find it annoying that so many kids are missdiagnosed and the teachers want there kids to behave and they arent allowed to punish them in any form not even time out so they medicate them to be able to deal with them. and no i am not in support of teachers saying that your kid needs to be medicated. sometimes SOMETIMES diet and earlier bed time changes can make a huge difference. other times the student needs to be taught how to behave in school class. idk just my thoughts. teachers have been suggesting meds and suggesting children be tested for all adhd for awhile. i think that if they see that a child seems really off compaired to the rest of the students this does need to be adressed with the parents in a priviate conversatin and all topics be covered on how to deal with said issue. meds arent always the first answer either.

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answers from Tyler on

No! They are not qualified to diagnose a child. I do think it's ok for them to suggest a child be evaluated by a medical professional if they suspect there is a problem and recognize symptoms of ADHD.

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answers from Honolulu on


For the past 2 days.... You seem to be doing surveys, on ADHD and medication.


answers from Dallas on

Teachers can't diagnose anything, they aren't doctors. Even if they are, they aren't providing medical services when they are serving in their capacity as teacher. So... no.



answers from New York on

ABSOLUTELY NOT! Suggest an evaluation but that is it.



answers from Minneapolis on

I personally said to a teacher's who threw out a diagnosis and suggested Ritalin. "What medical degree do you have?"

Then I went directly to the principal and changed her class to another teacher who was more than willing to work with me on the behavior issues.



answers from New York on

Absolutely not. They can suggest you have your child tested, but they cannot diagnose. That should be done by a professional.



answers from Binghamton on

What do you mean by "diagnose"? Did she administer the tests necessary for a diagnosis? That she can't do. Or did she simply suggest you see a professional for a diagnosis and that your child might do better with medication? That is within her prerogative and in fact she would be remiss if she feels there is a real problem not to bring it up with you. What would you prefer: should she simply watch a child struggle and say nothing? Teachers are trained professionals and part of that training is learning about learning disabilities, how they present and options for helping affected children learn. Be grateful if your teacher cares enough about a child to bring up what might be uncomfortable but very important issues.



answers from Louisville on

Had a teacher that tried that on my oldest - took him to the pedi who asked if the kid played with Legos (they were a new toy) - he did, for hours! Methinks said teacher didn't know how to handle a boy that was a boy - I say that cause of what I saw a few years later w/her own son....

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