How ADHD Is Diagnosed
Most children show signs of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness as part of normal behavior and development. In children with ADHD these behaviors are more severe and frequent.
Guidelines for Diagnosing ADHD in Children
Diagnosing ADHD requires several steps. To diagnose ADHD in children, associated ADHD behaviors must persist for six months or more, be observed in multiple settings (such as home, school, and other places), and interfere with the child's schoolwork or relationships.
Where ADHD Guidelines Come From
Healthcare professionals use guidelines from the current edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM to help diagnose ADHD. By using this standard, professionals seek to assure that children are appropriately diagnosed and treated for ADHD. Only trained health care providers can diagnose or treat ADHD.
After an ADHD Diagnosis: Types of ADHD
If an ADHD diagnosis is deemed appropriate, one of three types of ADHD may be determined:
- Combined Presentation: If enough symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity were present for the past six months.
- Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: If enough symptoms of inattention, but not hyperactivity-impulsivity, were present for the past six months.
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: If enough symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity but not inattention were present for the past six months.
ADHD symptoms can change over time, and so can ADHD diagnosis. The average age of onset for ADHD is 7 years old.