In order to develop the proper specialized solutions to the problems a person with ADHD and their family are confronting, it is crucially important that there is an accurate diagnosis.
Is a Comprehensive Evaluation Important?
YES! In order to develop the proper specialized solutions to the problems a person with ADHD and their family are confronting it is crucially important that there is an accurate diagnosis.
An accurate diagnosis will ensure a clearer understanding of the nature of the difficulties being experienced and/or observed. From this understanding individualized solutions can be found.
Too often a diagnosis of ADHD is made without taking the time and putting in the energy to gather all the necessary information to make an accurate diagnosis. Many of the symptoms of ADHD are shared with other mental disorders. However, the solutions to correcting these symptoms may be very different depending on the diagnosis. In addition, approximately 80% of individuals diagnoses with ADHD have another coexisting psychiatric disorder that requires professional attention and unique solutions.
Often ADHD leads to problems with peer relationships, parent-child relationships, marital relationships, and academic and/or work underperformance. A comprehensive evaluation will answer why an individual is struggling in these areas which are the crucial first step to finding the right solutions.
Finally, a good comprehensive evaluation does not only seek to find the type and degree of impairment an individual may be having, it also identify a person’s strengths. Ultimately, success depends on discovering ways to work around and compensate for relative weaknesses in an individual and capitalize on their strengths.
Coexisting & Associated Psychiatric Disorders
The following is a list of possible psychiatric disorders that could coexist with ADHD or could be responsible for the symptoms also frequently associated with ADHD:
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Conduct Disorder
- Learning Disability
- Anxiety Disorder (Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, etc.)
- Depressive Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Autistic Spectrum Disorder (Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, NOS)
- Thought Disorders
What to Expect from a Comprehensive Evaluation
An evaluation is going to vary to a certain degree depending on the particular issues, presenting problems, and assessment goals. However, there are some key components to a thorough ADHD evaluation.
Time will be spent talking with the child, parents, family members and school professionals. The interview is crucial in learning about your child, your family and the environments in which your child interacts. Current concerns, history of those concerns, psychosocial functioning, developmental history, family history, academic history, medical history and psychiatric history will all be explored and discussed.
Behavioral Rating Scales
Behavioral rating scales are checklists and rating scales which help to objectify observations of your child’s behavior across a variety of settings. The Behavioral Rating Scales may be given to the child (depending on your child’s age), parents, teachers, other adults frequently in contact with your child.
Academic & Medical Records
As part of the information gathering steps of the evaluation, it is important to provide your treating professional with relevant academic records, medical records, and results of any previous psychological evaluation or testing.
Psychological & Neuropsychological Testing
Neuropsychological and psychological testing can provide important information regarding how your child (or an adult) processes information. Testing provides information regarding intelligence, academic achievement, learning style, cognitive strengths and weaknesses, and behavioral and emotional functioning. Neuropsychological testing is crucially important in ruling out potential coexisting psychiatric conditions.