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Diagnosing ADHD in children

Child getting off school bus
Child getting off school bus
Photo taken by Linda Richards

Diagnosing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD or ADD) should be done by a pediatrician, a child psychologist or child psychiatrist. To diagnose ADHD the doctor will take into consideration an assessment completed by the parents, an assessment completed by the child’s teacher, and observing the child’s behavior. The doctor may want to complete additional assessments to rule out other conditions as well.

ADHD cannot be diagnosed with ultrasounds, x-rays or blood tests. There are varying degrees for ADHD as well. Not all children with ADHD will act the exact same way or to the same degree. During the assessments the doctor will identify whether the child is prone to inattention, hyperactivity, impulsive behavior or all three conditions. Once a diagnosis for ADHD is made the doctor will cover how severe the condition is and if medication would be beneficial. Not all children need to take medication for ADHD but many children benefit greatly from it.

Behaviors associated with ADHD or ADD may not become apparent until a child enters kindergarten. Some children are more active, stubborn or aggressive than a typical child but the difference between a spirited child and an ADHD child is clearly evident once an ADHD child is required to sit at a desk all day completing tasks. A child with ADHD or ADD will become easily distracted more so than a typical child of the same age. An ADHD child won’t have the ability to sit still and will frequently talk out of turn. An ADHD child will appear to be disorganized and forgetful. Due to the struggles with concentrating the child will most likely have poor grades. This is not due to lack of intelligence but the child’s inability to complete tasks by staying focused. The behaviors suspected as symptoms for ADHD should be present for at least six months prior to requesting a diagnosis from a professional.  For a complete list of ADHD symptoms visit WebMD.


  • kimheckemeyer 5 years ago

    Thanks Ms. Richards for your articles! I am going through this right now and this was extremely helpful!