#13 - Should I Get My Child a Diagnosis?

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC September 12, 2018

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Should I Get My Child a Diagnosis?

Today’s episode is all about the pros and cons of getting a diagnosis for your child. Rachel and Jessica explain how to find resources for a diagnosis, what to expect if you do / do not get a diagnosis, and whether you should or should not pursue a diagnosis- from a therapist’s perspective. This controversial topic can be scary and hard to manage so if you’re struggling with deciding to chase down a diagnosis, this is the episode for you!



Should I Get My Child A Diagnosis? 

One recurring dilemma that parents often face is whether or not to pursue a diagnosis for their child. While a diagnosis can provide clarity and guidance, it also brings unique challenges.


Advantages Of A Diagnosis 

Getting a diagnosis for your child brings a multitude of advantages. It can:

  • Offer validation and understanding of your child's struggles
  • Bring clarity to confusing behaviors or symptoms, helping parents understand their child better. 
  • Help your child receive access to specialized resources and support.
  • Open doors to accommodations at school or in other settings. 
  • Provide a sense of closure for parents who may have been searching for answers for years. 


Drawbacks Of A Diagnosis

Although there are undeniable advantages to receiving a diagnosis, it is important to acknowledge the potential drawbacks. Here are a few key points to consider when it comes to a diagnosis:

  • It may label your child with a specific disorder or condition, affecting their self-perception and how others view them. 
  • It could limit opportunities in the future, such as specific job prospects or insurance coverage.
  • It can be emotionally taxing and time-consuming as it often involves multiple appointments, tests, and evaluations. 
  • It requires sharing personal information about your child's struggles and behaviors, which can be challenging for some parents. 
  • It may provide only some answers or solutions to your child's challenges, and treatment options may vary in effectiveness. 


Seeking A Diagnosis

If you have determined that obtaining a diagnosis is the most suitable path for your child, it is crucial to understand the process. The initial step entails discussing your concerns with your child's doctor or pediatrician.

They can refer you to a specialist, like a developmental pediatrician or child psychologist, who can conduct additional evaluations and assessments. Depending on your child's age, their doctor or pediatrician may refer them to early intervention. 

Regardless of which route you take, remember to stay informed and advocate for your child's needs. Gather information about developmental milestones, early intervention programs, and therapy options to make the most informed decision.


Insights Shared By Parents

To gain insights, we asked families in the 'All About Sensory' podcast community and asked them about their decision to pursue or not pursue a diagnosis for their child.  

What concerns did you have about pursuing a diagnosis for your child?

  • "We had no reservations. We wanted to understand our child's needs and the diagnosis, providing some answers."
  • "We worried about our child potentially getting labeled or stigmatized with a specific disorder."  
  • "We were concerned about the cost and time associated with getting a diagnosis."
  • We didn't want the doctor to jump to medication immediately."

What concerns did you have about refraining from pursuing a diagnosis?

  • "We were concerned that without a diagnosis, our child would not receive the necessary support and accommodations at school."
  • "We felt like we were missing an essential piece of the puzzle by not pursuing a diagnosis."  
  • "We were worried that we would not be able to understand or help our child without a diagnosis fully."  

How did you feel upon receiving the diagnosis for your child?

  • "It felt like a weight had been lifted off our shoulders. It gave us direction and knowledge that we could work with."
  • "I was relieved because knowing that there were reasons behind his behavior made me feel less helpless, confused, and more empowered." 
  • "I was both scared and excited to have the diagnosis. Scared of what it meant for my child's future and excited to have some answers finally." 
  • "It confirmed our suspicions, but it was also a mixed bag of emotions as we knew the challenges that would come with it."
  • "I felt validated. I knew something wasn't quite right, and now I had proof. It gave me peace of mind."  
  • "I was devastated. I knew that the diagnosis would change our lives in ways we didn't expect." 

What is your greatest apprehension when it comes to your child's diagnosis?

  • "The fear of being judged and misunderstood by others." 
  • "The possibility of our child facing discrimination or exclusion because of their diagnosis." 
  • "The uncertainty of how the diagnosis will impact our child's future and opportunities." 
  • "The concern that the label may define my child, rather than seeing them as an individual with unique strengths and challenges." 

These responses exemplify the diverse range of emotions and concerns parents may encounter when pursuing a diagnosis for their child. It is vital to remember that each family's journey will vary, underscoring the importance of cultivating a reliable support system throughout this process.


Finding Support During the Diagnosis Process 

Seeking a diagnosis for your child can feel like an isolating journey, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some tips for finding support during the diagnosis process:

  • Connect with other parents who have children with similar challenges through online communities, support groups, or local organizations.
  • Seek professional guidance and counseling to help you navigate your fears, emotions, and concerns.
  • Educate yourself about your child's potential diagnosis and treatment options. Knowledge is power, and it can help you feel more in control during this process.
  • Communicate openly and honestly with your child's doctor or specialist. They are there to support you and your child, so don't be afraid to ask questions and seek clarity.
  • Take care of yourself throughout the diagnosis process. It can be emotionally taxing, so prioritize self-care activities that help you recharge and stay resilient. 

Keep in mind that deciding whether or not to seek a diagnosis for your child is a deeply personal choice that should prioritize their best interests. Remember to trust your instincts as a parent and know that there is no one right answer.  





While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC
Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC

Rachel Harrington, COTA/l, AC, CPRCS, and Jessica Hill, COTA/L, CPRCS are Harkla's in-house Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) and Certified Primitive Reflex Clinical Specialists. They have been working with children for over 6 years in outpatient settings. They specialize in creating easy-to-digest, actionable content that families can use to help their child's progress at home. Jessica and Rachel are the in-house experts, content creators, and podcast hosts at Harkla! To learn more about Jessica and Rachel, visit the Harkla About Us Page. Make sure to listen to their weekly podcast, All Things Sensory by Harkla for actionable, fun advice on child development.

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