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How is ADHD Diagnosed

Updated: Jun 27

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder which occurs during childhood.  Children with ADHD exhibit difficulties with attention and/or impulsivity and hyperactivity, relative to children of the same age and gender without ADHD.  ADHD can cause significant functional disability throughout the lifespan and in all areas of life.  Identification and early diagnosis is essential to provide the appropriate supports that can significantly improve the life outcomes for an individual with ADHD.

ADHD Assessment Diagnosis Perth

Psychologists, psychiatrists and paediatricians can diagnose ADHD.  Treatment for ADHD can include pharmacological options and psychologists are unable to prescribe medication for ADHD.  Paediatrician’s and psychiatrists are able to prescribe ADHD medication.  Psychologists can provide non pharmacological treatments for ADHD such as cognitive behavioural therapy to help individuals manage their symptoms and behaviours.  They can provide parent and family training to assist caregivers to support their child with ADHD.  Psychologists can also provide recommendations to support students with ADHD in the educational setting including accommodations to lessen the functional impact of their disorder.

 

The Australian Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline for ADHD state that in a review of the major international diagnostic guidelines all recommended a clinical interview, rating scales and multiple informants are essential components of the diagnostic process for ADHD.  For children and adolescents, the clinical interview is conducted with parents or caregivers and with the individual being evaluated.  The interview evaluates the ADHD symptoms, their history and how the symptoms are impacting an individual.  Additional information that also needs to be evaluated includes information about an individual’s strengths, assessment of mental health, educational functioning, developmental and family history.

 

Ratings scales are an essential component of an ADHD evaluation and these can be completed by the individual, parents and teachers.  Ratings scales are questionnaires that can evaluate mental health symptoms, ADHD symptoms, educational functioning and identify possible differential conditions.  The most common conditions in childhood that can co-occur with ADHD are specific learning disorders, oppositional defiant disorder, language disorders, autism spectrum disorders and anxiety disorders. Rating scales can also examine executive functions such as an individual’s ability to regulate emotions, recall information, planning ability, problem solving skills and capacity to self-monitor.   

 

As part of an evaluation for ADHD, other assessments for co-occurring conditions may also be recommended.   For example, psychometric testing examining a child’s cognitive skills and educational achievement may be important to identify if there are suspected learning disorders, intellectual disability or language delays. An assessment for ADHD should also include a medical assessment to exclude other causes of the ADHD symptoms.  There are several medical disorders that can exhibit symptoms and signs similar to those of ADHD including sleep disorders, hearing impairment, vision impairment, anaemia and thyroid disease.

 

At Butterfly Psychology for Kids we conduct ADHD assessments with children and adolescents aged 6-18 years.  Following this assessment, further evaluation with a paediatrician or psychiatrist may be recommended. For more information on ADHD assessment and diagnosis in Perth enquire now.


Information adapted from:

Australian Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline For Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder -1st Edition (2022) www.adhdguideline.aadpa.com.au

ADHD in Children: Diagnosis, Assessment, and Management (Barkley, R.)

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