There is no single test to diagnose ADHD, instead, determining whether a child or adolescent has this disorder takes many steps. Because the symptoms of ADHD can be caused by many other factors, a comprehensive evaluation is necessary to establish the diagnosis of ADHD and to rule out other causes for problematic behavior as well as determine the absence or presence of coexisting conditions.
Our ADHD evaluations are comprehensive and do not center around just a survey or questionnaire that teachers and parents fill out. Students struggle with attention and focus for a lot of reasons and we want to be sure that we are getting to the root of the problem. We spend 3-4 hours with each student and look at how they learn and process. We look at all their academic areas to determine if there are any gaps present that may be due to inattention or may be causing inattention. We also spend that time observing the student, watching them work, observing their behaviors. All students have a certain level of inattention and restlessness, we are looking for behaviors that are outside that normal range. We talk to the student and ask them why they think they may be struggling. We want to hear, in their own words, what they feel is happening each day both in and outside of school. When appropriate, we have the student complete a survey to learn more about how they view their own behaviors as well as their attitude towards school, themselves, and their relationship with peers and parents. We also will send surveys to parents and teachers but not surveys that only focus on attention but also look at things like anxiety and depression as these are also things that can cause inattentive behavior.
Once we gather all of this information, we determine if the student meets the criteria required to be diagnosed with an attention deficit. To be diagnosed with ADHD, individuals must have six of the nine characteristics in either or both DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) categories listed below. (Adults must have five of the nine characteristics)
In children and teenagers, the symptoms must be more frequent or severe compared to other children the same age. In adults, the symptoms must affect the ability to function in daily life and persist from childhood.
In addition, the behaviors must create significant difficulty in at least two areas of life, such as home, social settings, school, or work. Symptoms must be present for at least six months.
Criteria for the three primary subtypes are:
ADHD – Predominantly Inattentive Type
Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes.
Has difficulty sustaining attention.
Does not appear to listen.
Struggles to follow through on instructions.
Has difficulty with organization.
Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort.
Is easily distracted.
Is forgetful in daily activities.
ADHD – Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Type
Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair.
Has difficulty remaining seated.
Runs about or climbs excessively.
Difficulty engaging in activities quietly.
Acts as if driven by a motor.
Blurts out answers before questions have been completed.
Difficulty waiting or taking turns.
Interrupts or intrudes upon others.
ADHD – Combined Type
Individual meets both sets of inattention and hyperactive/impulsive criteria.
Diagnostic Learning Services offers specific evaluations to assess for ADHD. In addition, we will use the assessment information to makes relevant recommendations for both school and home. Call today for more information about how we assess and diagnose ADHD.
Diagnostic Learning Services has been assessing children and adults since 2004. We have locations in Plano, Fort Worth, Houston, The Woodlands, and Austin. Call today to see how we can help!