ADHD in Children (cont.)

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Are there ADHD tests? How do physicians diagnose ADHD in children?

In order for a child to receive an ADHD diagnosis, he or she must demonstrate six symptoms of inattention or six symptoms of combined hyperactivity and impulsivity, while an older teen or adult need only exhibit five of either group of symptoms. The symptoms should start before 12 years of age, be present in more than one setting (for example, home and work), be severe enough to cause problems for the individual, and not be able to be better explained by another condition for the diagnosis of ADHD. There are three kinds of ADHD: predominately inattentive type, predominately hyperactive/impulsive type, and the combined (inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive) type.

Many health-care professionals, including licensed mental-health therapists, primary-care providers, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and social workers may help make the diagnosis of ADHD in children. One of these professionals will likely conduct or refer for an extensive medical interview and physical examination as part of the assessment. ADHD is sometimes associated with a number of other mental health problems, like depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and other anxiety disorders, Asperger's syndrome, and other autism-spectrum disorders. ADHD is also often associated with other behavior disorders, like conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. Therefore, the evaluator will likely screen for signs of depression, manic depression, anxiety, and other mental-health symptoms. The symptoms of ADHD may also be the result of a number of medical conditions or can be a side effect of various medications. For this reason, health-care professionals often perform routine laboratory tests during the initial evaluation to rule out other causes of symptoms. Occasionally, an X-ray, scan, or other imaging study may be needed. As part of this examination, the sufferer may be asked a series of questions from a standardized questionnaire or self-test to help establish the diagnosis. Some ADHD symptom checklists for children include the Vanderbilt Rating Scale and the Connors' Rating Scales.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/28/2014

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