How is ADHD diagnosed?
Children are normally diagnosed before age 12.
There is no specific test for the condition, but the process of diagnosis will typically consist of the following:
- A medical exam to rule out any other conditions that may be causing the symptoms.
- Gathering information about any other medical conditions, school records of behaviour and family history of the condition.
- Interviewing other family members, friends and school teachers to find out more about the symptoms the child is displaying. In the case of an adult with ADHD, colleagues or family will be interviewed if available.
- There is an ADHD rating scale that is available to collect and tabulate information on the child in order to assist in making an accurate diagnosis.
- The American Psychiatric Association has created a set of criteria that help to identify and diagnose ADHD. This is known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5.
Diagnosing ADHD in very young children
Diagnosing the condition in very young children is often more challenging as language delays and developmental issues are often mistaken for ADHD.
Children suspected of having ADHD will be evaluated by a specialist such as a psychologist or a paediatrician. It is important that parents get a second opinion for these sorts of cases to ensure an accurate and conclusive diagnosis.
Other conditions that bear a resemblance to ADHD
There are a number of conditions or treatments that may result in signs and symptoms similar to those in ADHD. Some of these include:
- Language or learning issues
- Seizure disorders
- Sleep apnoea
- Psychiatric disorders and issues
- Anxiety or depression
- Thyroid issues
- Brain injuries