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Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Diagnosis

Deciding if a child has ADHD is a multi-step process that must rule out other problems with similar symptoms, such as depression, certain learning disabilities or hearing problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued the following guidelines for the diagnosis of ADHD:

  • The diagnosis is based on very specific symptoms, which must be present in more than one setting.
  • A child should have at least six inattention symptoms or six hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms, with some symptoms present before age seven.
  • The symptoms must be present for at least six months, seen in two or more settings and not caused by another problem.
  • The symptoms must be severe enough to cause significant difficulties in many settings, including home, school and relationships with peers.

If ADHD is suspected, a medical evaluation may include:

  • Parent and teacher questionnaires
  • Psychological testing evaluation of the child and family, including IQ testing and other psychometric tests
  • Complete developmental, mental, nutritional, physical and psychosocial examination