How is ADHD Diagnosed?

from The Diary of a First Grade Teacher

How is ADHD diagnosed? If your child has symptoms of ADHD, the behaviors will usually begin in early childhood. The characteristics of ADHD must be present for a minimum of six months before someone will be considered as possibly having ADHD.

Although the exact cause of the condition is unknown, testing has been developed to help diagnose those who may be suffering with the condition.

The Diagnostic Process

Because ADHD consists of a variety of symptoms, it’s impossible to diagnose with a simple blood test. Instead, diagnosis is made by a group of trained professionals and by the observations of parents, teachers, or other adults.

Before a diagnosis can be made, the pediatrician or mental health specialist will first try to rule out other possibilities for the symptoms. If this is not possible, then the child will likely meet with a medical team of professionals.

The medical team is made of experts in the field of behavioral disorders. Usually, they are psychologists, counselors, and other medical doctors and specialists who will be involved in determining the diagnosis.

Testing for ADHD

During testing, the medical team will use the following criteria to make a determination:

  • Physical exam and blood work

  • An interview with the child

  • Interview with school psychologists and school counselors

  • Interviews and questionnaires with parents and teachers
These tools are used to rule out other causes of your child’s behavior. They want to know if there are other accompanying conditions, such as depression, for example. It’s hard to diagnose ADHD in children who have accompanying conditions.

3 Categories of ADHD

Most attention deficit disorders fall into one of the main 3 categories of ADHD:

  • ADHD with predominantly hyperactivity/impulsivity

  • ADHD with predominantly inattention

  • ADHD with both
Within the main 3 categories, six subcategories of ADHD have been identified.

6 Subcategories of ADHD

The six subcategories are as follows:

  1. Classic ADHD – Symptoms include hyperactivity, inattentiveness and impulsiveness.

  2. Inattentive ADHD – Child is not organized, is easily distracted, and is affected by a lack of attention. Child may seem “spaced out,” but this is not on purpose.

  3. Over focused ADHD – The opposite of someone who pays no attention at all. They are often argumentative, inflexible to change, and worry a lot.

  4. Temporal Lobe ADHD – This is ADHD along with symptoms of anxiety. The child may have dark thoughts and be easily irritated by others and situations. Mood swings and aggression are common.

  5. Limbic ADHD – Depression accompanies this type of ADHD. The child may express negative thoughts and have depressive symptoms, such as antisocial behavior, lack of energy, and inattention.

  6. Ring of Fire ADHD – This type involves all of the other five. A child may have symptoms of anxiety, depression, worry, or obsessive compulsive behavior, inattention, and hyperactivity. This form is rare.

How is ADHD Diagnosed?

While the process can be long and may seem overwhelming, it is important for you to follow through. If you child has any of the symptoms, having him or her tested is the best way for you to be sure if it’s ADHD.

With the proper diagnosis, you can get your child the help and support they truly need.

For additional information on ADD/ADHD, you may be interested in reading here: Click Here!


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