Tests to Diagnose ADD and ADHD

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Overview

There are certain tests used to diagnose ADD and ADHD. If you think that your child may have one of these disorders, then you first need to take you child to your family physician. They will be able to determine if your child needs to be referred to a mental health specialist or not. No one test can diagnose ADD or ADHD. A licensed professional goes through a series of questions and exams in order to confirm the diagnosis. First, let’s take a look at the three main types of ADHD that the tests will be used to determine.

There are three forms of ADHD. The first is ADD, which is simply inattention. Next, is ADHD, which includes hyperactivity. The third type is ADHD with inattention and hyperactivity. The questions and tests that will be performed aim at diagnosing one of these three types of the disorder.

Interviews

The first thing a professional will do is simply interview the child. They have a series of questions that they will go through that are aimed at learning about the behavioral aspects of the child. They will also ask the parents questions, such as when the symptoms started, how they compare to their peers, and how and when the behaviors occur. The professional may also want to interview other relatives, teachers, and close friends. They are trying to get an accurate description of the child’s behaviors from everyone who is in close contact with the child.

Medical History

A very descriptive medical history will also be taken in order to rule out any other possible causes of the child’s behavior. They will be looking at the child’s social, emotional, educational, and behavioral health, according to WebMD. A physical exam will also be conducted in order to rule out any physical causes of the behavior.

Rating Scales and Checklists

After all of that questioning has taken place, the professional will use a rating scale or a checklist in order to either confirm or rule out the diagnosis. The Conner’s Parent Rating Scale, according to the Pearson website (referenced below), is an instrument used to diagnosis ADHD that uses observer ratings as well as self-reporting ratings, if the child is 12 to 17 years old. This scale is only used for children and adolescents, ages 3 to 17. Teachers are also asked to complete this rating scale, as well as the parents. The Pearson website identifies several scales that are used in this test: oppositional, cognitive problems/inattention, hyperactivity, anxious-shy, psychosomatic, and social problems. The results are then compiled and graphed which will determine if the child has the disorder and to what degree.

Another checklist that can be used to diagnose ADD and ADHD is the Child Behavior Checklist. This also involved a self-rating scale as well as a parent questionnaire, but it is not used as commonly as the Conner’s scale.

A Little Recap

With all of the above information, hopefully you know a little more about tests used to diagnose ADD and ADHD. As we all know, each child is different and will present with symptoms in different ways. Only a professional can make the actual diagnosis. If you are going to have your own child tested for one of these disorders, now you know what you can expect. It can’t be diagnosed overnight, but with all of the tests and exams involved in the process, you can be reassured that your diagnosis will be accurate.

Resources

WebMD https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/tc/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd-exams-and-tests

Pearson https://psychcorp.pearsonassessments.com/HAIWEB/Cultures/en-us/Productdetail.htm?Pid=PAg116