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ADHD looks different for everyone. There are no set rules when it comes to what this disorder can look or feel like for a child. On similar grounds, there is no sure way of diagnosing the disorder. Instead, patients who experience hyperactivity, impulsivity, or inattention (amongst other symptoms) go through an ADHD evaluation for the best possible diagnosis.

ADHD Evaluation

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that makes patients impulsive, hyperactive, and inattentive. The condition is most often diagnosed in children and directly affects their day-to-day activities. This can sometimes be reflected in a child’s inability to concentrate at school or difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships with others, including their family.

However, since the condition can look different in different patients, people tend to wonder how the condition is diagnosed. While there is no ‘one’ way to do it, medical specialists are capable of diagnosing it through an ADHD evaluation.

This evaluation can take up to a few hours (3 hours) which can be divided into the following:

  • The initial visit
  • A follow-up
  • Paperwork

Here are the 8 major things that are crucial for an ADHD evaluation for a child. 

1) An Initial Meeting

The first step to getting an ADHD evaluation is an initial visit to the doctor’s office. This interaction between the child, the parent, and the physician will help the doctor to identify the child’s strengths and weaknesses. A conversation with the parent will help evaluate the situation at home, school, or any other consistent place of visit.

The child’s behavior during this visit will also help the evaluator realize,

If the child is able to concentrate on a single thing

If they get restless or fidgety after a point in time

Whether they get aggressive or uncomfortable easily, etc.

2) Detailed Medical History

During the initial visit, the doctor will go through the complete medical past of your child. This includes details about any problems your child has faced or been diagnosed with since birth. Complications during pregnancy and delivery, premature childbirth, or any developmental issues that your child has faced while growing up – Can have an effect on your child’s ADHD.

Other issues that the evaluator might question you about include the allergies your child has, their weight and height, their appetite and sleeping patterns, any developmental milestones in the past or ongoing medical issues, or any hospitalizations so far.

All these questions might help the evaluator understand the patient’s condition better.

3) Strengths and Weaknesses

While there are different types of ADHD, almost all result is a set of weak executive functioning skills. In other words, children suffering from the condition might have trouble starting things, staying focused on a single project for long, have difficulty planning or managing something, and the like. Along with these, an inability to maintain relationships and becoming excessively aggressive or uncomfortable in different settings is another telltale of a child suffering from ADHD.

At the same time, patients with ADHD tend to be extremely energetic and spontaneous. This trait makes them a good fit for the playing field or any other fields that might require some level of creativity and innovation.

It is crucial to discuss both these aspects during the ADHD evaluation with the doctor.

4) ADHD Rating Scales

Evaluators tend to use rating scales to further evaluate your kid’s ADHD symptoms. The questionnaire can have somewhere between 18 to 90 questions. These often include a child behavior checklist (CBCL), a Swanson, Nolan, and Pelham-IV Questionnaire (SNAP-IV), a NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessment Scale, and a Conners Comprehensive Behavior Rating Scale (CBRS), and the like.

These rating scales help doctors evaluate the patient better, but they shouldn’t be confused with a complete diagnosis of the condition.

5) Child’s Performance at School

Your kid spends a major part of their day at school, and their performance there can help the physician evaluate the condition better. The evaluator might look through your child’s report cards and tests, and would want to know if your kid is receiving additional help from a tutor.

6) Checking for Patterns

Patients with ADHD show consistent patterns of inattention and hyperactivity, especially children. Without the presence of these symptoms, a child cannot be evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD.

In case of inattentions, the child might display the following behavior:

  • Inability to give close attention to details in school work
  • Trouble concentrating on tasks or activities in and outside school
  • May not listen when talked to
  • Unable to follow simple instructions given at home or school
  • Unable to organize things and tasks
  • Do not enjoy participating in activities that require mental work for long periods
  • Tend to lose things often
  • Get distracted and forget things easily

In case of hyperactivity, the child might exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Consistent fidgeting and tapping of feet and hands
  • Squirms in their seat and is unable to stay seated for longer durations
  • Feels restless and moves around when inappropriate
  • Unable to participate in activities that require quiet work
  • Need to be ‘on the go’ at all times
  • May talk excessively and blurt out things when unnecessary or inappropriate
  • Has trouble waiting for their turn and interrupts others

7) Looking Into Other Conditions

It’s a physician’s job to evaluate your kid’s condition as precisely as possible. So while they evaluate them for ADHD, they’ll also look for signs of anxiety or depression. These could be the mental issues causing your child’s downsloping performance at school or could be a result of the ADHD they’re suffering from. If the physician believes that your kid might be suffering from other conditions, they might refer another physician best fit to make that evaluation.

8) A Follow-Up Visit

Once you’re done with the initial visit, you’ll be asked to come in for a follow-up. In this meeting, you’ll go over the results of the evaluation and all possible courses of action for the future. This is where you’ll discuss possible medications, therapies, or modifications to lifestyle to aid your child’s treatment.

Clinics like Steady Care Medical execute an in-depth ADHD evaluation of all patients, children, or adults, before recommending any particular treatment plan.

If your child or anyone around you has been facing symptoms, it is preferable to get them evaluated. Starting the treatment early on will help them lead a normal life. Getting diagnosed and eventually treated into adulthood can lead to the co-existence of other medical conditions (like depression or anxiety).