There is no single "pass-fail" test to ascertain whether a person, a child, has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, more commonly known as ADHD. The hallmark of this common brain disorder is an inability to focus and pay attention and difficulty controlling behavior. To make a reliable ADHD diagnosis, a doctor and medical care team use a variety of tests, medical exams, personal interviews and other factors to make the assessment.
Tests used in diagnosing ADHD
1. The Vanderbilt Assessment Scale. This 55-question test, developed by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, reviews the symptoms of ADHD and helps to separate them from the symptoms of similar disorders, such as anxiety disorder and depression. Unlike many other tools used to access ADHD-like symptoms, this questionnaire is given to parents and teachers close to the patient, not to the child directly. Each question is answered on a one through five scale, with some questions being weighed more heavily than others.
2. Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC). This is a standardized assessment of a child's behaviors and personality traits. This test looks for not only indications of ADHD, but also those of depression and certain learning disabilities. This assessment is designed for use with children from age two through college age.
3. Basic symptoms evaluation. Another type of test for ADHD is for the medical team to evaluate the symptoms that have led the parents and/or teachers to suspect ADHD. Some of the things that they look for include being forgetful and easily distracted, fidgeting and having trouble sitting still, poor grades, disruptive behavior in school and losing interest in tasks before completing them.
4. A non-evasive brain scan. A brain scan is also part of the battery of tests used to diagnose ADHD. A brain scan can rule out medical conditions, such as epilepsy, that present many of the same symptoms as ADHD.
5. Child Behavior Checklist/Teacher Report Form (CBCL). The CBCL is a standardized scale that measures traits like aggressive behavior, withdrawal from other people and delinquent behavior. This assessment is made up of 113 questions and is designed for parents and teachers of children ages 6-18.
Of course, testing isn't the only determinant used in accessing whether a person has ADHD. The medical team will also talk with counselors, observe the child interacting with others, review the child's medical history and talk with the child one-on-one.
For more information, contact Rainbow Pediatrics or a similar location.