What to expect in ADHD testing

ADHD testing should be carried out by an experienced doctor or a trained psychologist. This is important because ADHD symptoms are present in some degree or the other in most children. It is wrong to diagnose a child for ADHD if the child is impulsive, inattentive or hyperactive. These may only be passing moods, and not symptomatic of ADHD.

Sometimes, a child’s disinterest in studies may be construed as an ADHD symptom by anxious parents. To prevent this from happening, an experienced doctor needs to conduct a series of tests to separate learning disorders from ADHD.

Another interesting point about ADHD tests is that they are not diagnostic. There are no X–rays or blood tests. A child is instead called for an interview and the doctor spends considerable time talking to the child.

Based on this a child’s medical history is prepared. The doctor also speaks to the child’s parents and, if necessary, the child’s teachers and friends. The main objective of the discussions is to prepare a child’s medical history. This includes details about the child’s family history, home and daycare conditions, school performance, work-related problems (in the case of adults), illnesses, diet, sleep problems, social behavior etc.

This is a fairly comprehensive document, and provides several useful insights into a child’s behavior. After this, the doctor may order a few psychometric and educational tests. The purpose of these tests is twofold: one, to rule to rule out learning disabilities, and two, to locate clear symptoms of ADHD.

Some of the psychometric tests that are conducted are:

-- The Conners' Parent and Teacher Rating Scale (for children) and the Brown Attention Deficit Disorder Scale (BADDS) for teens and adults;

-- The Conners Continuous Performance Test (CPT), the Integrated Visual and Auditory (IVA) CPT, or both. This test is done to assess impulsivity and inattention.

-- The Nadeau/Quinn/Littman ADHD Self-Rating Scale in girls.

The doctor then correlates the findings of the tests with the child’s medical history to decide if a child is suffering from ADHD or not.

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