“Just a Kid” or Something More?
Is your child having trouble focusing at school? Does your child act first and then think? Is Homework taking 4 hours instead of 15 minutes? Exhausted by the end of the day by your child’s “Energizer Bunny” activity level?
Difficulty concentrating, impulsive behavior, and hyperactivity are three major symptoms of ADHD. On the other hand, symptoms that look like ADHD may actually be due to a learning disability, other emotional problems, or even exposure to stress or trauma. An ADHD test can help determine what diagnoses are correct and what a child’s needs are.
Undiagnosed ADHD can make life miserable for kids and parents both. It can lead to hours spent battling over one page of homework. Parents find themselves constantly nagging their child to do the same three tasks that they cannot seem to remember. Kids make rash decisions like blabbing a secret before thinking or even things that put them in danger. Getting the right diagnosis when ADHD is suspected can make all the difference for a child struggling with school, relationships, and social skills.
I listen closely to parent concerns and thoroughly explore all the possible reasons for a child’s difficulties. Some medical or mental health providers claim to be able to diagnose ADHD by simply hearing a parent’s concerns or watching the child for a few minutes. My experience working with kids has shown me time and again that when ADHD is assessed casually, incorrect diagnoses are given. The lost time and ineffective treatments that follow those wrong or missed diagnoses are frustrating.
Taking the time and investing the money to have a comprehensive assessment completed will help your child get the right help, faster. It will also prevent children from getting unnecessary treatments, such as stimulant medications. Medication often helps children focus in school, but sometimes it does not. When considering the side effects that may be experienced, being sure ADHD is the right diagnosis becomes even more important.
Sometimes ADHD can be hard to pick out. An example is the student that does not make any trouble in school but is failing classes because he spends his class time daydreaming or watching clouds float by outside the window. Even when it is clear that ADHD is present, formal testing is needed to be sure that no additional conditions are related to symptoms. At times, mood disorders or other behavioral disorders can be mistaken for ADHD. Kids that are being bullied, have experienced trauma or major life changes such as divorce may also seem revved up or have trouble concentrating. School problems or homework avoidance might actually be due to a specific learning disability, like a reading disorder. Autism spectrum disorders are often first diagnosed as having ADHD, or in contrast, ADHD is missed because the child has some social skill deficits that are due to hyperactivity.
As a clinical psychologist who specializes in children and adolescents, I offer comprehensive ADHD evaluations in my practice. My evaluations are very thorough and help to determine if ADHD is the problem, if medication is a good choice, and if other conditions are also present (e.g. learning disabilities, depression/anxiety).
ADHD testing usually includes interviews, observation, IQ testing, and emotional and behavior rating scales. It may also include neuropsychological tests for attention and memory or academic tests. If other emotional concerns are found, additional personality testing may be done.
Overall, your best bet to get an accurate diagnosis and a detailed treatment blueprint is to have a formal ADHD test completed. Call today to schedule an initial intake and consultation to determine if testing is right for your child.