ADHD (Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder)
ADHD, or Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, has been receiving a lot of attention in the last few years, and increasing numbers of both children and adults are receiving this diagnosis.
There are several different subtypes of ADHD:
- Predominantly Inattentive Type
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
- Combined Type
- Not Otherwise Specified
ADHD doesn’t look the same in every individual. Both children and adults can experience problems with attention, concentration, and restlessness for a variety of reasons. Concerns such as stress, anxiety, depression, learning disabilities (reading problems or processing issues, for example), relationship concerns, and certain medical problems can result in symptoms similar to those of people with ADHD.
Detecting ADHD and How to Treat ADHD
Early intervention is key, so it’s important to determine whether a child who is forgetful, unfocused, easily distracted, irritable, disruptive, struggling with listening and following directions, and/or unable to sit still is simply moving through a challenging developmental, emotional, or behavioral phase, or is truly struggling with ADHD — a chronic and treatable psychiatric disorder. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, decisions can be reached about how to best help the individual.
A good ADHD assessment for children or adults is thorough enough to rule out other explanations for the problem symptoms, and will include the following:
- Comprehensive interviews with the child or adult patient, parents, or other collateral sources to learn more about the specific problems, their triggers, and any previous interventions or behavioral plans.
- Collection of detailed information about developmental, medical, educational, social, behavioral, and psychological history through interviews and questionnaires.
- Review of relevant school or work records and previous testing, if any.
- Behavioral rating scales to better understand the individual’s behavior and feelings, and how these compare to same-age peers.
- A measure of cognitive functioning (an IQ test) to further comprehend how the child or adult thinks and to identify his/her particular strengths and weaknesses. (Interestingly, children with ADHD are often much smarter than their grades and school performance would suggest.)
- An achievement test to determine how and what an individual is learning, and to rule out any learning disabilities.
- Tests that look more closely at variables of attention, such as a computerized Continuous Performance Test (CPT) for ADHD.
- An evaluation for emotional difficulties.
- Additional tools used as needed to further explore any issues identified during testing.
What to Expect After ADHD Assessment
Following the comprehensive ADHD assessment, I will meet with you to review the test results and recommendations. This will help you to better understand your or your child’s experience and level of functioning in a variety of areas, and (when appropriate) will provide you with suggestions for what you, your child’s school, and treating professionals can do to help. After the feedback session, you will receive a thorough written report summarizing all of the information discussed with you.