The process of diagnosing adhd - What to expect when your child is assessed

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Testing for or diagnosing adhd involves somewhat more than simply taking an online ADHD test or quiz. While the websites that offer ADHD tests can be useful in determining the likelihood that your child might or might not have ADHD they should never be considered as a legitimate diagnostic tool. They simply cannot take the place of obtaining a professional diagnosis. In order for someone to be diagnosed with ADHD they need to be evaluated and assessed by a qualified mental health professional who has experience with the disorder.

Before a proper diagnosis can be made certain diagnostic criteria have to be considered and the specialist uses these criteria in order to make their diagnosis. Your child will only be diagnosed with ADD/ADHD if they exhibit the symptoms that are associated with the disorder and which are out of the normal range of behavior for their age. The symptoms need to be discernible in a number of different situations as well. This means that they are not specific to a particular environment which means that they do not only manifest whenever the child is at school or only when the child is at home. Aside from this the symptoms also need to have been noticeable for some time, usually longer than six months, and they need to have been occurring before the child has reached the age of seven. It is not uncommon for the child to be diagnosed once they start attending school given the fact that they are under more pressure to be organized and are in a more regulated environment.
When it comes to diagnosing adhd your health care provider or the child's paediatrician or psychologist will use the criteria alluded to above and make their diagnosis according to the guidelines laid out by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). To render the diagnosis he or she will gather info about the child's behavior from:

- School

- Caregivers

- Parents

The symptoms that your child will need to have exhibited for longer than six months, in a variety of settings and circumstances, and by the time they have reached seven years of age include:

- Being constantly on the go.

- They fidget a lot especially with their hands and feet.

- They make careless mistakes.

- They have a tendency to lose tools and other items they require.

- They seem to not listen even when spoken to directly.

- They are easily distracted by small stimuli.

- They leave work incomplete.

Part of the process for diagnosing adhd in your child will include a complete physical examination. This will also include a discussion regarding your child's medical history and a screen for other health issues that could be responsible for affecting the behavior of the child. There are some conditions that might mirror the symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder such as:

- Life changing events - these would include the child starting at a new school, death in the family, moving home, divorce, etc.

- Seizures that have remained undetected.

- Thyroid problems

- Sleeping problems such as insomnia

- Anxiety and depression

- Lead toxicity

Diagnosing this disorder in adults is not as easy for the health care provider as it is when diagnosing it in children because adults are able to adjust to their behavior problems to some extent. Very often a parent might recognize ADHD in themselves once their child has been diagnosed. Sometimes they might seek help for a different issue such as depression and only then discover that they have ADHD.

In adults the symptoms of ADHD are similar to those described in children and include:

- Forgetfulness and a tendency to always be running late

- Anxiety

- Difficulty keeping organized

- Low self-esteem

- Problems on the employment front

- Problems controlling anger

- A tendency to impulsive behavior

Leaving these problems untreated usually results in emotional, social, and occupational problems but before the ADHD will be diagnosed the adult needs to have noticed these symptoms during their childhood and they need to have been persistent.

19 Sep, 2011

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