If you suspect that your child has problems with attention, focus, hyperactivity, and related struggles we highly recommend formal ADHD testing and an evaluation of symptoms.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, often referred to as ADD) is the umbrella term for several related symptom patterns.
ADHD is commonly misunderstood and misdiagnosed and a comprehensive ADHD assessment will help tease out the whole picture. ADD / ADHD very commonly co-exists with other disorders (including learning disabilities, anxiety, and depression – to name a few).
If your child has several of the following symptoms, you should consider scheduling ADHD testing:
Inattention in Children:
- Does not pay close attention to details, or makes careless mistakes in homework, work, or other activities
- Has trouble sustaining attention in tasks or activities
- Doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to directly by others
- Has trouble following through on instructions and/or does not finish chores or work
- Dislikes, avoids, or does not like tasks that require sustained mental effort
- Often loses things necessary for school, tasks, or activities (school assignments, pencils, books, keys, etc)
- Is forgetful in daily activities
- Is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli (sounds, activity, etc)
- Has trouble getting organized
Hyperactivity in Children:
- Moves about, climbs, or runs excessively
- Fidgets or squirms
- Has trouble remaining in seat, when doing so is expected
- Has trouble waiting in line, taking turns
- Acts as if “driven by a motor”
- Trouble playing in quiet leisure activities
Impulsivity in Children:
- Blurts out answers to questions
- Often interrupts and intrudes upon others
Many children who are bright or gifted have been incorrectly labeled with ADHD, because there are characteristics of giftedness that overlap with ADHD symptoms in kids and teens. While it is possible to be gifted AND have ADHD, many children’s strong intellectual abilities go unrecognized because a formal assessment is never done. Sometimes, the opposite happens and child ADHD symptoms are masked in kids who are very smart.
Quite often, giftedness is mistaken for ADD or ADHD and this leads to a treatment plan that doesn’t emphasize the whole child or focus on his or her strengths. Many times, the focus is on the deficits which takes a toll on a child’s self-esteem.
Many people chose to consult a primary care doctor for consideration of medicine instead of seeking a formal ADHD testing. Self-report questionnaires often serve as the primary method for diagnosing ADHD at primary care physician offices. While interviews and questionnaires are quite useful in the diagnosis of ADHD, they are not sufficient to get the big picture.
There is a high risk of other key factors (such as giftedness or learning disabilities) being overlooked when a child has ADHD symptoms. In some cases, medication after medication is tried and none of them seem to work. These are the situations where it makes sense to have a a child psychologist take a closer look at whether ADHD is the correct diagnosis, or perhaps not the only issue going on with your child.
ADHD testing can help bring your child’s true strengths and challenges into focus.