Do you have a child that seems constantly on the go, acts before thinking things through and seems far off in another world when you’re trying to get his/her attention? Have you yet seen a doctor or mental health professional to have your child undergo some of the tests for ADHD children that are currently available? Parents are often reluctant to have their children checked for ADHD, afraid, perhaps, of discovering their child may be affected, but what they must understand is that these ADHD symptoms—symptoms that are undoubtedly causing problems for their children both at home and school—can be effectively treated and managed, but only after a diagnosis is made. Delaying this diagnosis only delays treatment and could cause your child to fall even further behind his peers both socially and academically. To help you avoid a similar fate, in this article we will discuss the various ways ADHD can affect a child, followed by information regarding some of the tests for ADHD in children that doctors typically use today.
How Does ADHD Affect My Child?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, is not uncommon in children (an estimated 10% of all school-age children are affected), but can often be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms associated with the disorder can affect children in a variety of ways. Sadly, one of the long-perpetuated myths about ADHD in children is that all children with the disorder are hyperactive. This is not necessarily true. While ADHD is characterized by three main symptoms: hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention, not every affected child will suffer from all three of these major symptom classes simultaneously. Children with ADHD that suffer from inattention as the predominant symptom, for example, may not show any signs of hyperactivity, and may in fact be calm and docile, albeit forgetful, disorganized and a bit dreamy.
3 Tests for ADHD in Children
Parents of ADHD children—or children who might be suffering from the disorder—may be dismayed to learn that there is no medical test for diagnosing ADHD. There is no blood test; no x-ray, no MRI that can determine whether or not a child may be coping with the disorder. Instead doctors use criteria—criteria developed by the American Psychiatric Association and published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV)—that compares a child’s symptoms to the symptoms previously identified by the APA as pertaining to ADHD. The three main tests doctors will perform during the process involve examining the following:
- Onset. While ADHD can be present in children and adults of all ages, children will typically begin exhibiting symptoms of the disorder prior to age 7.
- Frequency. How often do the problems occur? Do they happen at home and at school? Do they seem to appear frequently or occasionally? The more frequent symptoms occur, the better the odds are that ADHD is the culprit.
- Severity. When looking at severity, doctors are trying to determine whether the symptoms are severe enough to indicate that ADHD is present, and thus causing major problems to the child’s ability to live and function normally. Symptoms that are very mild may simply mean the child is acting, well, child-like.
So how will doctors, who have had no previous contact with a child, determine the onset, frequency and severity of a child’s symptoms during a short appointment? Essentially, they won’t. While some of the answers may come via short interviews with the child during appointment sessions, the lion share of this information must be recorded by parents and teachers.
Notes taken by parents and teachers regarding a child’s behavior at school and at home are perhaps the best test for ADHD in children. These two groups of adults are consistently witness to the manner in which a child behaves and performs, and by noting the onset, frequency and severity of the child’s symptoms, parents and teachers will be of great benefit during the diagnostic process, and extremely influential in ensuring the child receives the treatment he/she desperately needs.