So, I want to start this article off by stating that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be very hard and tricky to diagnose. Diagnosing ADHD is even harder in children, most kids growing up will act impulsively, and become distracted or even have trouble focusing at times, but that doesn't mean they have ADHD. So, than how does the doctor diagnosis ADHD in children?
One of the first steps in diagnosing ADHD in your child starts at home with knowing the signs and symptoms of ADHD and seeing those symptoms in your child. Now, you have have to remember that all children will act impulsively from time to time and may get distracted or not pay attention. It's when your child can't control their own behaviors and attention where you may be concerned that he/she may have ADHD of some type.
Also, not all ADHD children are hyperactive and impulsive either, if your child isn't paying attention and is having troubles focusing and easily distracted consistently but doesn't act impulsively or isn't hyperactive he/she may still have a subtype of ADHD. If you do have concerns that your child may have ADHD, you than find a professional to check your child out. In diagnosing ADHD there are generally several professionals working together with you and your child such as physicians, psychiatric professionals, neurologist, learning specialists, school counselors, and educators.
There is no single test to treat ADHD, you can't just do an MRI, EEG or CT scan and say...oh hey, this child has ADHD. Your child's health care professional will use several different tools in diagnosing Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. This could include having the parents, teachers and even the guidance counselor fill out questionnaires about the child's mood, behaviors. learning difficulties and more regarding both the present and past of the child to understand the length and severity of any concerns/symptoms. The doctor may also do an exam to rule out any other issues or conditions it could be first. It is very important to always be honest with your child's health care professionals to be able to get an accurate and correct diagnosis and to overall get the best treatment for your son/daughter.
So, what does the doctor look at/for? Most times your child's PCP or pediatrician will refer him/her to a mental health professional for the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. In inclusion to questionnaires and information both past and present from the parents, teachers, coaches, instructors and anyone else who works closely with the child, mental health professionals will look at the symptoms and severity. They will look at when the symptoms started, how severe the symptoms are (children who have ADHD will have an impact in their life due to these symptoms and will generally have issues in things such as school), how long the symptoms have been troublesome (usually they want to see that the symptoms have been bothersome for at least 6 months in order to diagnose ADHD), and where and when they symptoms seem to appear (ADHD symptoms occur in multiple settings such as home and school, if your child has symptoms in just one setting than it isn't likely to be ADHD).
With everyone working together you can get a good accurate diagnosis as well as find the best treatment for your child. So make sure to work closely with your child's medical and school professionals to get the best help for your child's ADHD!
If your have concerns that your child may have ADHD, you can try this Online ADHD Diagnostics Test to see if your child should see a doctor regarding his/her ADHD symptoms.
Reference: National Institute of Mental Health