13 Nov ADHD Screening Tests
ADHD SCREENING TESTS:
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT ASSESSMENT FOR YOUR CHILD
ADHD Screening Tests
You’ve noticed your child seems easily distracted or impulsive and wonder if it could be attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Getting the right diagnosis and treatment plan as early as possible can make a huge difference. But with so many options, how do you determine the best ADHD screening test for your child?
This article will walk you through the different types of screeners available, what ages they are designed for, how they are administered and scored, and the pros and cons of each to help you find an assessment that fits your needs. By the end, you’ll feel empowered to have a productive conversation with your child’s doctor about which screener is right for getting the insights and answers you’re looking for.
Understanding ADHD Screening and Diagnostic Tools
Understanding the different ADHD screening and diagnosis tools available can help you find the right assessment for your child.
ADHD Rating Scales
Parents, teachers fill out these checklists, and sometimes the child. They ask questions about behaviors, feelings, and problems associated with ADHD, like hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. Some well-known scales are:
The results determine if further evaluation is needed and can be part of an eventual diagnosis.
If rating scales indicate possible ADHD, a full diagnostic evaluation is the next step. This is done by a doctor, psychologist, or mental health professional and includes:
- Interviewing the child and parents about medical, family, and behavioral history.
- Administering the rating scales and potentially cognitive tests.
- Ruling out other possible conditions with medical exams or tests.
- Determining if the child meets the official DSM criteria for an ADHD diagnosis based on symptoms, age of onset, pervasiveness, and impairment in major life areas.
The right assessment process for your child depends on their age, symptoms, and needs. Discuss options with their doctor to find tools that will properly evaluate them for ADHD and any co-existing conditions. Accurate diagnosis and treatment can make a world of difference.
Types of ADHD Screeners and Assessments for Children
There are a few types of ADHD screeners and assessments used to evaluate children for symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Interviews involve sitting down with a mental health professional, like a psychologist, to discuss your child’s medical history, behaviors, challenges, and strengths. The clinician will ask open-ended questions to understand your child’s development and determine if they meet the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis. Interviews provide a comprehensive overview but can be time-consuming.
Parents and teachers often fill out checklists asking about behaviors like impulsiveness, restlessness, and difficulty focusing. They measure the frequency and severity of symptoms to help identify if a child’s challenges are significant enough to warrant an ADHD diagnosis or other condition. Popular checklists include the Vanderbilt Assessment Scale and the Conners 3.
Performance tests evaluate a child’s ability to focus attention during specific tasks. For example, the child may be asked to identify a series of letters and numbers in order on a sheet of paper. These tests provide objective data to support an ADHD diagnosis but are not comprehensive.
With a combination of these assessments, clinicians can get a holistic view of your child’s challenges and determine an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan. The right approach for evaluation depends on factors like time constraints, cost, and the complexity of symptoms. Discuss options with your child’s doctor for suitable screeners and next steps.
Interpreting ADHD Test Results and Next Steps
Now that you have the results from your child’s ADHD assessment, it’s time to review and interpret them. The diagnostician should check the results with you in detail and explain what each score means regarding your child’s symptoms and daily functioning.
- Look for scores that are significantly higher or lower compared to the average. This could indicate areas of difficulty or strength for your child. For example, low scores on attention and high scores on hyperactivity may confirm focus and impulse control challenges.
- Consider if the results match what you observe about your child’s behavior and abilities. Do the scores reflect the concerns that led you to have your child evaluated in the first place? If not, discuss this with the diagnostician.
- Ask about the severity of any impairments found. Scores that deviate substantially from the norm suggest the need for treatment and appropriate interventions. Borderline scores may indicate monitoring and re-testing to determine if problems worsen over time.
- Discuss recommendations and next steps. This may include referral to counseling, occupational therapy, medication, classroom accommodations, or other treatments. Make sure you understand all options and feel supported in the next steps.
Getting the right diagnosis and recommendations for your child is key. Reviewing ADHD test results with a caring professional and determining appropriate next steps will help get your child the assistance they need to thrive. While ADHD is a lifelong challenge, the good news is that many resources and treatments are available to help children develop coping strategies, learn skills, build confidence, and succeed.