Child ADHD Test: What Tests Are Available to Diagnose My Child’s ADHD?

Child ADHD Test: What Tests Are Available to Diagnose My Child’s ADHD?Have you or your child’s teacher begun to recognize some odd or disruptive behavior patterns–behavior that you both believe could be representative of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD?  Do you think the time has finally come for a child ADHD test with a doctor or other clinical specialist?  ADHD can present with a number of troublesome symptoms, some of which are very subtle and others extremely overt.  From slight bouts of inattention to wild episodes of hyperactivity and impulsivity, ADHD can often be difficult to diagnose and even more complicated to manage.

One form of a child ADHD test is the online type offered by many ADHD support organizations, which asks several questions relating to your child’s behavior.  These tests can be very useful for gathering information and can help parents and teachers better sever the needs of the child, but since only a doctor can diagnose ADHD for certain, scheduling your child for a diagnostic appointment is a measure you must take in order to qualify your child for the entire scope of assistance he or she needs, including medication and counseling if warranted.  In this article we will describe the child ADHD test that doctor’s use to make their diagnosis, along with the specific criteria your child must usually meet to begin receiving services.

Child ADHD Test:  Obtaining a Medical Diagnosis

According to doctors there is no specific test for ADHD, but there are certain criteria.  Doctors will usually perform a complete medical exam to rule out any biological cause for the symptoms, and ask you about any general or stressful issues the child may have been dealing with, and about any medications he/she may be taking.  If a medical cause or an alternate psychological disorder has been ruled out, such as Depression or Anxiety, the next step involves collecting information about specific behaviors that might point to ADHD.

Important information doctors will collect includes details regarding the onset of the problems, and how long those symptoms have been present.  The doctor will also ask parents about any specific behavioral issues that could reflect the three primary symptoms of ADHD:  inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.  To be diagnosed with ADHD, a child must exhibit six or more signs and symptoms from one of two categories:  Inattention and/or Hyperactivity/Impulsivity, or 6 or more signs in each of the categories.  This diagnostic criterion comes from the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also called the DSM-IV.  Below are just a few criteria examples from each category:

Inattention

  • Often neglects to give full attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork and other activities
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to closely
  • Frequently distracted
  • Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Reluctant to engage in sustained mental work (homework, etc.)

Hyperactivity and impulsivity

  • Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
  • Often leaves his seat in class inappropriately
  • Often runs or climbs excessively when inappropriate
  • Talks excessively
  • Blurts out answers before being called upon to do so
  • Has difficulty waiting his turn or standing in line

If a child is deemed to have at least 6 symptoms from one, or both of the two categories above, doctors will do another child ADHD test, which is nothing more than the collection of certain information.  Here the doctor will determine whether or not the child meets the remaining criteria necessary for a diagnosis, criteria which includes an onset of symptoms prior to age 7, abnormal behavior as compared to peers, symptoms persisting for at least 6 months and symptoms causing the child trouble or difficulty at school or at home.

Based on the findings of the diagnostic criteria test, doctors will usually assign one of three diagnoses to a child:  Predominantly Inattentive-Type ADHD (6 or more behaviors in the inattentive category), Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive-Type ADHD (6 or more behaviors in the hyperactive/impulsive category) or Combined ADHD, with 6 or more behaviors in each category.

A child ADHD test is a great first step in ruling out other medical and psychological conditions, and for getting your child the help that he or she needs.  Once diagnosed, your child will be eligible for medical and counseling services, that many parents say can significantly reduce the number of troublesome issues, which typically translates to improved behavior and school performance.