Why Diagnosing Every Illness Matters for Your Child

Why Diagnosing Every Illness Matters for Your Child

Taking your kid in to see the doctor is often difficult and undesirable. The waiting room is one large bacteria pit, even with good insurance you usually wind up paying something, and when all is said and done you usually walk out two hours poorer with a child who was just as sick as they were when you arrived.

You should still do it anyway.

Getting your child diagnosed when they are sick has many benefits. Some of those benefits are felt by the wider community. Others have a direct impact on your kid’s quality of life. It’s important to be able to use the right words to describe your child’s experience. That’s what you get with a diagnosis.

In this article, we take a look at some of the many benefits of fully understanding your child’s physical and mental health.

From an Epidemiological Perspective

Oh boy. There’s a phrase you probably didn’t expect to come across today. When it comes to viral illness, diagnosing the problem isn’t just about helping the child. It’s also about making a useful contribution to epidemiological research.

Think back to the height of the pandemic. Lockdowns and other local policies were determined by how many people were sick with the virus. However, that number only reflected the volume of people who tested positive for Covid.

Those who hadn’t tested positive were more likely to contribute to the spread of the illness. They also obscured data that people were relying on to make important decisions about their social activity.

While Covid concerns aren’t as prominent as they were in 2020, it, along with the flu, can spike—particularly in the fall and winter. When community leaders and healthcare networks have accurate data they are better able to make recommendations and establish community guidelines.

Your child’s school will be trying to do the same thing on a smaller scale. Information is power.

Diagnosing Everything Else

Unfortunately, there are many ways life for a young person can become difficult. When that happens getting a diagnosis early can make it much easier to plan successful interventions. Often treatment is delayed because parents simply don’t know what they should be doing for their kids.

There are many challenges that can be improved upon with a diagnosis:

  • Intellectual: Public schools have robust support systems for children who are struggling due to a disability. Special ed is often misinterpreted. Children receiving SPED services are often just as intelligent as their peers. They just have a specific barrier to learning that requires special attention. For example, a dyslexic child can perform just as well as their classmates in school once they have appropriate services. The problem? You can’t get those services until you have a diagnosis.
  • Emotional: Depression and anxiety are very common among school-aged children. It’s hard for parents to witness their children struggle internally with a condition that they are powerless against. While getting a diagnosis is only the first step on what often turns out to be a very long road, it is an important way parents can help their children heal and get the help they need. Not only does a diagnosis allow the child to receive appropriate medications but it also makes it easier for them to access appropriate school resources that will make their educational experience more comfortable.

While it may be difficult to figure out where to start, it often helps to get an opinion from your child’s doctor. If they don’t have the knowledge or credentials to diagnose your child, they should have no trouble giving you a good referral.

Diagnoses are Important but They Don’t Define Kids

We talked a lot about why it is important to get to the bottom of whatever your child is experiencing. That’s true. It’s also true that parents and doctors need to be cautious about the insights they extrapolate from a child’s diagnosis.

Here’s an example. Timmy is in second grade. For months, his teacher has mentioned to his parents that he struggles with sitting still. It’s gotten to the point that his grades are being impacted.

Timmy’s parents take him to the doctor where, after careful screening, he is diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. The diagnosis comes as a relief to his mother, who now has words to neatly assign to something she more or less already knew was true.

The diagnosis also opens the door to pharmaceutical intervention in the form of drugs that may help Timmy focus better in school. That, coupled with the upcoming IEP meeting has made his parents feel cautiously optimistic that he will finally be getting the help he needs.

And for a whole year, it works.

But next year, in second grade, there’s more of the same. It’s not that Timmy is bouncing off the walls, but he does move around a lot. The teacher struggles to find desk partners who can work with him without being distracted.

While Timmy’s parents, doctors, and teachers examine the issue through the lens of his disability, similar behavior is being carried out by Suzie on the other side of the room. Suzie has never been diagnosed with ADHD. Her grades are good, and her milestones are normal.

While the grownups in Timmy’s life consider reconfiguring his medications and adjusting his IEP, Suzie’s behavior remains unscrutinized.

Because it’s normal for kids to move around and it’s very easy for a child who has been diagnosed with something to get misaligned. Now that Timmy has his diagnosis he gets the services he needs but it also comes at a price. Every action he takes is considered relative how it fits in with his disability.

That’s a hard way for a kid to live and it can easily do more harm than good. While it is important to have a word for what’s going on in a kid’s life, it’s also important to let them be individuals.