Teachers are not doctors, so they should not diagnose ADHD in students

Student with ADHD
A high school student with ADHD takes a test in a teachers’ lounge so she can avoid distraction.
(Juli Leonard / Raleigh News & Observer)

To the editor: This story implies that school districts have responsibility for diagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. (“ADHD is now classified as a specific disability under federal civil rights law,” July 26)

This is not true. ADHD is a medical condition that can only be formally diagnosed by a physician. For teachers or any school personnel to use this term when discussing a student with a parent would be tantamount to practicing medicine without a license. Teachers must address the issue with great care when suggesting to a parent that a student needs help.

I am a retired special education teacher. Many of my colleagues and I were pretty good at recognizing this disorder. But convincing a parent to accept help for the child is another issue, and parent permission is necessary for the student to receive appropriate services.

This aspect of the situation should not have been omitted from your story.


Norma Stewart, Arcadia


To the editor: Before I retired from the Los Angeles Unified School District, we teachers were told that we were not doctors. We were not to mention hyperactivity, distraction or medication. 

Although I had firsthand knowledge of ADHD as my son was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and was on medication with an individualized education plan, I was not allowed to speak to parents about their children’s behavior. It was quite frustrating knowing that an evaluation could help a child.


I violated the district’s rule very quietly quite a few times and am not sorry I did. Kudos to the U.S. Department of Education for issuing its new guidelines on ADHD. 

Rosa Carrillo-Coronado, Panorama City

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