Diagnosing ADHD

If your child exhibits signs of ADHD you should discuss your concerns with your GP. If the behaviour cannot be explained by other factors such as stress or illness, your doctor can make a referral for assessment by a paediatrician, who is in a position to make the assessment. The Diagnostic Manual DSM-V is used to diagnose ADHD.

Your paediatrician will request the completion of a number of questionnaires by both you and your child’s school, which in conjunction with an examination, will help determine whether your child has the condition. These tests establish whether the child exhibits a sufficient number of typical ADHD behaviours, which began from at least 12 years of age, which appear in two or more settings (usually home and school) for a minimum of 6 months and which cannot be explained by any other cause.

Some people believe that if a child can concentrate well at some things, they don’t have ADHD. In reality, ADHD kids can concentrate very well on some things they enjoy, often computer games. Computer games are usually designed to be addictive so this is not a good indicator. If a child has consistently poor concentration and focus in school, it’s worth investigating.

Note, there is a reluctance to diagnose the condition under 8 years of age, although in some instances it is advisable to obtain an earlier diagnosis and treatment.