Does my child have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?


By Lee Sook Huey

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderAt KIN & KiDS, we often get asked this question by parents who finding it challenging to keep up with their “hyperactive” child.  It is normal for children, especially toddlers, to be inattentive, extremely active or impulsive at times. Most children will learn to regulate their attention and behaviors following their cognitive development, but a minority of them do not seem to “grow out” of this phase.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a persistent condition of the brain that makes it difficult for people to pay attention and control their behaviors. The main symptoms include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Not all individuals with ADHD will show every symptom. Children with ADHD will display many of the following symptoms beyond the extent that is normal for their age on a regular and long-term basis at different settings (e.g. home and school).

Symptoms : Inattention

How a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may behave:

  • Often has a hard time paying attention and concentrating
  • Often does not seem to listen when talked to and forgets what he or she has been told
  • Frequently daydreams
  • Is easily distracted from work or play
  • Often makes careless mistakes
  • Frequently does not follow through instructions or tasks
  • Is disorganized and frequently loses important things
  • Frequently avoids tasks that require ongoing mental effort

Symptoms : Hyperactivity & Impulsivity

How a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may behave:

  • Is in constant motion, as if driven by a motor
  • Cannot stay seated, frequently squirms and fidgets
  • Talks too much
  • Often runs, jumps, and climbs when these are not permitted
  • Cannot play quietly
  • Frequently acts and speaks without thinking
  • May run into the street without looking for traffic
  • Frequently has trouble taking turns and waiting for things
  • Often calls out answers before the question is complete
  • Frequently interrupts others

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Adults

Around 67% of children with ADHD will continue to experience inattentiveness well into adulthood. Moreover, many adults with ADHD have not been diagnosed in their early years or were misdiagnosed. They may also be overlooked as they appeared to be successful in certain realms of their professional life. However, ADHD can have an impact on many areas of adults’ life, which includes:

  1. Academic and employment: underperform academically and in workplace, change jobs frequently, frustrations due to poor focus and organizational skills
  2. Driving: higher risk for motor vehicles accidents and false positive braking
  3. Lifestyle choices: higher risk for substance usage
  4. Relationship: more likely to experience marital stress and dissatisfaction, higher rates of divorce and separation.

 Importance of getting proper assessment

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderIt is never too late to get diagnosed and treated, as ADHD affects individuals throughout the lifespan. There are effective ADHD treatments available for different age groups, and the first step is to get proper assessment from qualified mental health professionals (e.g. clinical psychologists).

Unlike many other disorders or conditions, ADHD does not have a definite biological indicator.  There is also no single, specific test for diagnosing ADHD.  Thus a positive diagnosis depends on the examiner’s ability to recognize the symptoms, assess the severity and frequency, verify childhood onset symptoms, and rule out other medical or psychiatric conditions that can be confused with ADHD. Another essential part of ADHD assessments involves detecting and examining ADHD comorbid mental health conditions such as learning disorder and mood disorders.

A comprehensive assessment usually includes:

  • A comprehensive clinical interview on relevant life history
  • significant others being contacted for collateral interview(s) (e.g. parents, significant others, teachers)
  • completing ratings scales on the symptoms
  • completing personality inventory to rule out other conditions
  • undergoing neuropsychological tests (e.g. continuous performance test, attention test, brief IQ screen)

With accurate diagnosis, clinicians will be able to recommend proper interventions. Treatment of ADHD may include medication for symptoms management if needed and/or psychological treatments for learning helpful skills to manage the conditions as well as collaborating with the school to implement a positive behavioral management plan. The bottom line is that people with ADHD can learn to manage their conditions for a greater sense of well-being.

At KIN & KiDS, we offer testing and diagnosis of ADHD for both children and adults using a compressive battery of psychological tests.  As with all other psychological assessments, we are also able to provide a confidential psychological report carefully setting out the results of our assessments as well as our recommendations for intervention.

Are interested to learn more about our Psychological Testing & Assessment?

Contact us for more information.

References
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Center for Academic Support and Advising Framingham State College (1998). Documentation Guidelines: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Retrieved from http://www.framingham.edu/center-for-academic-support-and-advising/documents/disability-services/documentation-guidelines-adhd-new.pdf
Adler, L.A. (2006). Scattered Minds: Hope and Help for Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

About the Author

Sook Huey is a clinical psychologist who does testing and assessment for ADHD in both children and adults.  Read more about her here.

 

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