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Four Steps Parents Can Take if You Think Your Child has ADHD

If you are concerned that you or your child may have Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it can be a minefield to know where to start! Who do I see? How do I get answers?

To help guide parents through the process we have outlined the “typical” path parents take below. You may feel strongly or there is an urgency in the matter and jump straight to Step 3! That’s fine. But any thorough assessment for ADHD should encompass all these elements at some stage.

Step 1: Talk to Your Child’s Teacher.

Teachers should be your first port of call. They are often able to tell you if the concerns you have around your child’s attention and concentration are significant when comparing them to 25 other children of the same age! That is valuable information and a logical first step. Teachers can also tell you if they have had similar concerns or noticed any impact on their academic progress which might suggest attention and concentration difficulties. If your child’s teacher is concerned, it might be time to follow the next steps.

Step 2: Check Your Family GP

Sometimes there are other health or medical reasons that can impact your child’s attention and concentration. If your family GP gives your child a full bill of health, then you might ask for a specialist referral.

Step 3: Schedule a Clinical Assessment or Interview

Specialists mental health centres like Northshore Kidspace are able to diagnose ADHD by conducting a thorough, formal assessment. Typically, this assessment will involve a clinical interview and administration of series of standardized tests/rating scales. Information from this assessment is then compared to specific diagnostic criteria in order to determine whether a diagnosis of ADHD is appropriate. But the first step would be an appointment with a child Psychologist or Psychiatrist to gain a history and more detail of your concerns. They may then recommend testing for ADHD.

Step 4. Testing for ADHD

Psychometric assessments are a method of measuring psychological qualities, for example personality traits, cognitive abilities, academic abilities, certain behaviours etc. The word “psychometric” simply means psychological measurement.

Psychometric assessments can be used to guide decisions about whether an individual may have Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A psychometric assessment for ADHD will be “multi-modal” and multi-informant”, meaning that it will collect information in many different ways from many different people. A comprehensive assessment of ADHD will typically involve a measure of cognitive functioning, a measure of academic achievement and rating scales to assess specific behaviours associated with ADHD. This broad range of standardized measures can contribute to a diagnosis of ADHD by providing information that may rule in or out other possible explanations for difficulties with attention, concentration and hyperactivity. Results from standardized assessments are considered alongside other information obtained from clinical interviews and through clinical assessments in order to inform decisions about diagnosis and intervention planning.

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