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What tests should be done to determine if it is ADHD?

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What tests should be done to determine if it is ADHD? parent handout


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What tests should be done to determine if it is ADHD?

What tests should be done to determine if it is ADHD?

If you're concerned your child may have ADHD, the best thing to do is get a comprehensive evaluation of your child. Your child's doctor may be able to complete the evaluation or you may be referred to a mental health specialist (for example, a psychologist, psychiatrist, or developmental-behavioral pediatrician). The information below can help you understand how ADHD is diagnosed and what will be included in your evaluation.

Is there a simple test to diagnose ADHD?

  • No. ADHD is not like physical illnesses. There is no simple test to give a definite diagnosis of ADHD.

How is ADHD evaluated?

  • ADHD is evaluated by gathering information from you, your child, and other people in your child's life (for example, your child's teacher or your child's coach).
  • Your child may be observed directly at school or in another setting.
  • You child may be asked to do some activities to help determine his strengths and weaknesses (for example, timed problem solving activities or memory tasks).

What type of information is gathered during an evaluation?

  • Information about how frequently your child is inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive.
  • Information about problems caused by symptoms of ADHD.
  • Information about other possible problems, like depression or defiance.
  • Information about your child's developmental history and when he/she began to have problems.
  • Information about your child's academic history, including grades and problems in school.
  • Information about your family life, about your daily routine, how your day is structured, and how you handle discipline.
  • Information about your child's relationships including relationships with friends, peers, teachers, coaches, and family members.
  • Information about your child's physical health and your family's medical history.
  • Information about your child's strengths, including what your child does well.

How will information be gathered during the evaluation?

  • Questionnaires are commonly used to evaluate symptoms of ADHD. You and your child's teacher will probably be asked to complete questionnaires. Your child may also be asked to complete questionnaires, depending on his/her age.
  • You and your child will be asked questions directly during an interview.

Should my child have a brain scan or blood tests to diagnose ADHD?

  • While there are generally differences in brain scans for children with and without ADHD, these differences are not big enough to help diagnose ADHD. Brain scans are expensive and time consuming. They should not be used to diagnose ADHD.
  • There are no blood tests to diagnose ADHD. Blood tests are costly and should not be used to diagnose ADHD.

During the evaluation you should also be given an opportunity to ask questions and state your concerns. Be sure to get all your questions addressed and bring up all your thoughts and concerns about your child. Observations and concerns from parents are a critical part in making the correct diagnosis and selecting the best treatment.

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