How can a child get tested for ADHD?
In order for a child to receive an ADHD diagnosis, he or she must exhibit six symptoms of inattention or six symptoms of combined hyperactivity and impulsivity, while an older teen or adult need only have five of either group of symptoms. The ADD symptoms should start before 12 years of age, be present in more than one setting (for example, home and school), be severe enough to cause problems for the person, and not be able to be better explained by another condition for criteria for the diagnosis of ADHD to be met.
There are three kinds of ADHD:
- predominantly inattentive presentation,
- predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation, and
- the combined (inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive) presentation.
Who performs ADHD tests?
- Many health care professionals, including licensed mental health therapists, pediatricians, and other primary care providers, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, psychiatric nurses, physician assistants, and social workers may help make the diagnosis of ADHD in children. One of these professionals will likely perform or refer for an extensive medical interview and physical examination as part of the assessment.
- One of the key issues in assessing children and teens for ADHD is determining whether the behaviors being exhibited are part of normal behavior for their age or of ADHD.
What is involved in ADHD testing?
- Individuals with ADHD also often have a learning disability or one of a number of other mental health problems, like symptoms associated with exposure to trauma, as well as depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other anxiety disorders, Asperger's syndrome, and other autism-spectrum disorders.
- Childhood ADHD is also often associated with other behavior disorders, like conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. Therefore, the health care professional will likely screen for signs of depression, manic depression, anxiety, and other mental health symptoms.
- The symptoms of ADHD may also be the result of a number of medical disorders that affect brain function or can be a side effect of various medications. For this reason, health care professionals often perform routine laboratory tests during the initial evaluation to rule out other causes of ADD symptoms.
- Occasionally, an X-ray, brain scan, or another imaging study may be needed.
- As part of this examination, the sufferer may be asked a series of questions from a standardized questionnaire or self-test to help establish the diagnosis.
- Some ADHD screening tests of symptom scales or checklists for children include the Vanderbilt Rating Scale and the Connors' Rating Scales.
What is the approach to ADHD testing?
In an effort to encourage thoughtful, deliberate assessment and treatment of ADHD rather than premature treatment with medication, a stepped diagnostic approach to this condition is being encouraged by many mental health practitioners, except if the child's symptoms are severe such that the need for treatment is urgent. The steps in this approach include the following:
- Gathering information about the child from more than one source (such as from the school and home)
- Exploring what other issues may be causing symptoms (such as symptoms of a medical illness or reaction to trauma)
- Continue to monitor and assess potential symptoms over time
- If issues continue, provide an intervention like education materials on ADHD
- If the minimal intervention does not result in adequate symptom management, provide or refer for a brief number of counseling sessions to teach the child and his or her family ways to decrease and manage the child's symptoms and implement educational accommodations to help improve the child's educational performance.
- If issues continue despite the previous interventions, consider assessment for treatment with medication for ADHD.
Can a child in preschool have ADHD?
- Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 2 million preschool-aged children are currently diagnosed with ADHD. While this condition can be diagnosed in children under 5 years of age, there is a significant risk of misdiagnosis of ADHD given how quickly younger children grow and develop.
- Children who are of preschool age or younger also have less opportunity to be in settings that illuminate the symptoms of the condition than their school-aged counterparts.
- Symptoms of ADHD in toddlers may include problems with self-control, in that they experience trouble sitting still, a tendency to be in constant motion, talking constantly, as well as having difficulty focusing, listening, or settling down to sleep or eat.
What Are the Symptoms of ADHD in Kids? Tests, Medication
Is it possible to prevent ADHD in children?
- Studies indicate that breastfeeding up to 6 months of age may help protect individuals from developing ADHD.
- As environmental and social insults like maternal drug use and exposure to community violence, medical, and emotional issues are risk factors for developing ADHD, prevention or treatment of those issues can help prevent or decrease the severity of this condition.
What is the latest research on children with ADHD?
- Much of the latest research on ADHD in children focuses on how exposure to environmental toxins may increase the risk of developing this condition. For example, studies indicate that exposure to fluoride, lead, pesticides, dry cleaning chemicals, and other chemicals can increase the likelihood that a child develops ADHD.
- Acupuncture is being explored as a possible treatment for this disorder.
- Also, research indicates that mothers who use acetaminophen (Tylenol) during pregnancy may be at higher risk of having a child with ADHD, particularly with more frequent use and during more than one trimester of the pregnancy.
Are there support groups for parents of children with ADHD?
4221 Forbes Blvd., Suite 270
Lanham, MD 20706
Where can people find more information on ADHD in children?
Attention Deficit Disorder Association
Children and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
4221 Forbes Blvd., Suite 270
Lanham, MD 20706
National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center
6001 Executive Blvd.
Room 6200, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
Email: [email protected]
Medically Reviewed on 10/7/2021
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