What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by significant difficulty paying attention and/or hyperactive/impulsive behaviors that impairs functioning across multiple settings. The diagnosis of ADHD is rarely given until a child is around 5 or 6 years of age, as these symptoms are a normal part of development in young children.

There are three types of ADHD:

  1. predominately inattentive presentation, which is characterized by difficulty paying attention, focusing, listening to instructions, etc.

  2. hyperactive/impulsive presentation, which is characterized by over activity, interrupting, blurting out, difficulty staying seated, etc.

  3. combined presentation (the most common type of ADHD), which is characterized by significant symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity

How do you test for ADHD?

ADHD can be difficult to diagnosis for several reasons. First, symptoms of over activity and inattention are common, especially in young children. Second, there are no direct tests that can diagnose ADHD, and children act differently depending on the person and setting. Third, ADHD commonly occurs in the presence of learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and other emotional disorders (e.g., anxiety and depression), and it is important to rule-out the presence of other factors that could be contributing to difficulties paying attention. For these reasons, best practice in evaluating children with ADHD involves completing a comprehensive evaluation.

At PRISM, an evaluation for ADHD might include the following components:

  • A diagnostic interview with the parent or caregiver that includes developmental history and current concerns

  • Intelligence testing

  • Academic testing in reading, written expression, and mathematics

  • Testing of attention and executive functioning

  • Social, emotional, and behavioral questionnaires completed by parents and caregiver

  • Social, emotional, and behavioral questionnaires completed by teachers and other service providers

  • Interviews with teachers and other service providers as needed

  • School observation

  • A comprehensive written report with results; summary; DSM-V or medical diagnoses; recommendations for eligibility for school services (IEP or 504 eligibility); recommendations for parents; and recommendations for services in the community

  • A meeting with families to review the results, recommendations, and develop a plan for treatment and prioritizing services

  • A school meeting to review results and determine eligibility for a 504 plan or IEP

What should I do if I think my child has ADHD?

Contact us to determine if an evaluation would be appropriate for your child.