What is an Attention-Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD)?
Individuals with AD/HD demonstrate difficulty with inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity that is inappropriate for their age. There are three different types of AD/HD: Combined type whereby the individual is demonstrating significant difficulty with both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity and two additional subtypes for predominantly hyperactivity-impulsivity or predominantly inattentive. Children with AD/HD often experience difficulty with a number of school-relevant behaviors such as response inhibition (i.e., the child will blurt out and has difficulty waiting his/her turn), time management, planning, problem solving, listening, reading comprehension, and motivation. These individuals also struggle with parent, adult, and peer relationships.
Is there a single test that can be used to determine if a child has AD/HD?
NO! An evaluation for AD/HD should be comprehensive. Diagnostically, there needs to be significant behavioral difficulties evidenced in multiple environments for a sustained period of time (i.e., at least six months). Therefore, there must be a comprehensive investigation of a child's background in addition to individual testing and feedback from the student, parent (s), and teacher (s).
What tests are typically administered during the individual testing portion of the evaluation when there are concerns regarding AD/HD?
- Norm-referenced, standardized measures of intellectual and academic functioning are given to determine current levels of performance.
- During the individual evaluation, the child will be asked to complete behavior rating scales and assessments to investigate executive functioning (i.e., planning, organizing, monitoring and other skills that are often challenging for students with AD/HD) such as the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF), Brown Attention-Deficit Disorder Scales, Conners-Wells' Self-Report of Behavior, Behavior Assessment System for Children-Second Edition Self-Report, Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System, the Conners' Continuous Performance Test-Second Edition, and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test.
- Parents, teachers, and other professionals who know the child well are interviewed regarding the presentation of the child in the classroom and at home. Individuals will also be asked to complete behavior rating scales (i.e., Behavior Assessment System for Children-Second Edition, Conners-Wells Rating Scales) to get an objective assessment of general behavior and emotional functioning, attention, concentration, impulsivity control, and higher level executive functioning.
- Additional evaluation may address the presence of learning disabilities as many children with AD/HD also evidence significant learning issues.
This comprehensive assessment will help determine if a child is presenting with symptoms consistent with AD/HD and/or if there are additional issues (i.e., a learning disability) that should be addressed concurrently with the AD/HD.
For students with suspected learning disabilities and/or AD/HD, evaluation may also involve personality assessment using measures such as the Children's Apperception Test, Thematic Apperception Test, Rotter Incomplete Sentence Blank, Children's Depression Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory-II, and the Beck Anxiety Inventory to get a clearer picture of the individual child.