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What To Know About How Doctors Diagnose ADHD

There are multiple ways to diagnose ADHD, a.k.a Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This disorder is diagnosed by doctors after they observe one or more symptoms impact a person’s ability to function. The observation period usually lasts six months and takes place in more than one setting. 

ADHD Tests

A doctor might conduct the following tests to rule out other disorders or medical conditions:

  • Hearing 
  • Eyesight 
  • A blood test for lead levels 
  • A blood test for diseases like thyroid 
  • A test to measure the electrical activity in the brain 
  • A CT scan or MRI to check for abnormalities 

Brain Wave Test 

To scan the brain waves the Neuropsychiatric EEG Based Assessment (NEBA) Test is used. Adolescents and children with ADHD have a slightly higher ratio of certain brain waves. This test can be used among children 6 to 17, but this test alone cannot determine ADHD. It needs to be combined with other medical and psychological tests to deliver an accurate diagnosis. 

What do doctors look for when diagnosing ADHD?

According to American Psychiatric Association, these are the signs doctor look for when diagnosing ADHD:

Inattentive Type 

A person must have at least 6 of these symptoms along with a few hyperactivity impulses symptoms:

  • Doesn’t pay attention to details, and makes silly mistakes 
  • Doesn’t stay on one task
  • Doesn’t listen 
  • Doesn’t follow instructions 
  • Trouble organizing tasks or other activities 
  • Avoids or dislikes things that require effort, focus or concentration 
  • Loses things
  • Easily distracted 
  • Forgetful 

Hyperactive-Impulsive Type

A person must have at least 6 of these symptoms along with a few inattentive symptoms:

  • Fidgets or squirms a lot
  • Can’t sit in one place for long
  • Runs or engages in physical activities at the most random time 
  • Cannot stay quiet for a long period
  • Excessive Talking
  • Always on the go, or doing something 
  • Speaks over other people 
  • Cannot wait their turn, and need everything immediately 
  • Interrupts other 

Combined Type 

This is the most common type of ADHD, where the person actively shows symptoms of both Hyperactive Impulses as well as inattentiveness. 

A few more tests that are often used by medical professionals to diagnose and track ADHD are as follows:

The Vanderbilt Assessment Scale 

This is a 55-question test which helps understand and review symptoms of ADHD as well as diagnose other conditions like conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety, and depression. 

The Child Attention Profile (CAP)

This assessment is filled out by teachers to track the symptoms of ADHD in students. 

Behaviour Assessment System For Children (BASC)

This test observes and looks out for hyperactivity, depression, aggression and conduct problems in children. Additional things that are taken into consideration in this test are anxiety, attention and learning problems, along with a lack of certain essential life skills. 

Child Behavior Checklist 

This is a teacher’s form which reviews children’s behavior like physical complaints, aggressive behavior or withdrawal. 

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