Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition defined by three core components: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. About half of those diagnosed with ADHD as children will continue to experience symptoms into adulthood. Because of how common ADHD is, the right tools and interventions are necessary to diagnose and treat patients throughout the course of their lifetimes.
Effective ADHD Diagnosis
According to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD 11), ADHD is “a persistent pattern of inattention symptoms and/or a combination of hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms outside the limits of normal variation expected for the age and level of intellectual development.” To be diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms must be present for at least six months and have a disruptive impact in school, work, or social settings.
To properly diagnose ADHD, a multi-disciplinary team is more effective than individual mental health professionals. This team can include:
- Teachers certified in special education
- Educational psychologists
- Reading specialists
- Occupational and physical therapists
- Speech and language pathologists
ADHD Evaluation and Age-Based Diagnostic Tools
An accurate ADHD diagnosis relies heavily on the analysis of information from multiple areas and typically includes:
- Ratings scales and interviews from more than one source
- Comprehensive medical and development histories
- Educational and occupational histories
- Assessments with tested diagnostic tools
Gathering this information and having an expert team perform a thorough analysis is the ideal method of diagnosing ADHD. Because this condition usually appears in childhood and changes throughout a person’s lifetime, age-based tests are also crucial.
WPS offers trusted diagnostic tests for professionals to use for patients as young as five years up to 80 years of age. These tests include:
- (ADHDT-2) Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Test: This test helps identify and measure the severity of ADHD in patients 5 to 17 years old. Performing this individually administered test takes about three to five minutes.
- Conners’ Adult ADHD Ratings Scales (CAARS): This rating scale helps to identify, assess, and treat ADHD in adults. It is geared toward patients ages 18 to 80 years. This scale utilizes the Behavioral Regular Index, Emotional Regulation Index, and Cognitive Regulation Index to form the Global Executive Composite Score.
Just as it takes a multi-disciplinary and multi-diagnostic approach to assess ADHD, it also takes a multi-pronged plan to treat ADHD since symptoms change over a patient’s lifespan, and they can range from mild to severe. Time-tested interventions can include some or all of the following:
- Medication: There are both stimulant and non-stimulant options for pharmaceutical use. Over half of children diagnosed with ADHD effectively manage symptoms with medication.
- Teacher and/or parent behavioral training: This method focuses on helping caregivers to understand the overall spectrum of ADHD and how to build reliable everyday routines and behaviors.
- Trigeminal nerve stimulation: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the TNS to help reduce ADHD symptoms. TNS is currently approved for children 7 to 12 years of age.
Learn more at WPS about comprehensive assessment tools and evidence-based interventions to effectively diagnose and treat patients with ADHD.