Tinton Falls ADHD Testing
Empowered Learning Transformation Centers
Your Complete ADHD / ADD Diagnosis Guide
A thorough evaluation of ADHD symptoms is complicated — as it should be to ensure accuracy and rule out similar diagnoses. Follow this step-by-step guide to find a clinician, prepare for testing, and learn to manage ADD symptoms.
How Is ADHD / ADD Diagnosed?
Testing alone cannot diagnose symptoms of ADHD. Attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) is a nuanced condition with three distinct sub-types, symptoms that appear along a spectrum of severity, and overlapping comorbid conditions that often complicate diagnosis and treatment. Add to that lingering misinformation and myths in the medical community, and the barriers to an accurate evaluation and medical care may seem impossibly high.
Here, we break down the essential information on finding an ADHD professional and pursuing an accurate diagnosis.
What Are ADHD Warning Signs?
You’re worried. Your son’s teacher sent home a note saying that his lack of focus is holding him back in class.
Your daughter phoned a classmate to set up a play date, and was turned down for the third time. The so-called “friend” told your daughter that she’s weird.
How Do You Get an ADHD Diagnosis?
An evaluation for ADHD often starts with a routine visit to your primary-care physician, but chances are it won’t end it there. As a rule, most general practitioners are not trained in the idiosyncrasies of ADHD and its overlapping conditions, or not equipped to perform the in-depth evaluation needed. One reason is time. It can take several hours of talking, test taking, and analysis to diagnose someone with ADHD. Most general practitioners can’t give you or your child that much attention in a busy practice.
In addition, general practitioners sometimes overlook co-existing, or comorbid, conditions with overlapping symptoms, such as learning disabilities, mood or anxiety disorders, or autism spectrum disorder. Professionals trained in diagnosing ADHD routinely screen for these problems.
Any good ADHD diagnosis will begin with a clinical interview to gather the patient’s medical history. This is often supplemented with neuropsychological testing, which offers greater insight into strengths and weaknesses, and helps identify comorbid conditions.
How can you find an ADHD expert in your area? Follow these five steps to find the right help and diagnosis, and a treatment plan that will best manage symptoms:
- Ask a school psychologist or guidance counselor for a referral for your child. If you’d prefer to see an outside expert before getting the school involved, move to the next step.
- Talk with your internist or your child’s pediatrician. Start the conversation this way: “I’ve noticed these symptoms in myself (or my child), and I’d like an evaluation. Do you know of someone who specializes in diagnosing ADHD?” If the doctor says that he can do it, ask about the tests he uses and how long he typically spends making the diagnosis. If the only basis for a diagnosis is a quick interview with you and/or your child, ask for a referral to a specialist.
- Contact a medical school near your home. “Call the department of psychiatry and ask, ‘Is there anyone on your staff experienced at working with adults or children with ADHD?’” suggests Empowered Learning Transformation Centers. “When you get the name of a professional, ask him how many people he has treated. It should be at least a hundred.”
- Check with your insurer. Ask if there are experts trained in diagnosing ADHD covered by your plan. If not, consider going out of network. Remember that your goal, initially, is to get a thorough, accurate evaluation and diagnosis. When you have that information, the diagnosing doctor can work with your plan’s physician to prescribe treatment.
- Call your local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness or CHADD, and ask for names of professionals who specialize in ADHD. Another good option: an ADHD support group in your area. Word-of-mouth recommendations are often the best assessment of a professional’s ability.
Contact us today!