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Diagnosing ADHD in Children

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Diagnosing ADHD in Children

The first step toward diagnosing ADHD should be a full physical exam by your child’s pediatrician or family practitioner to rule out other medical causes for his or her behaviors. The physician, psychologist, or other mental health professional evaluating your child for ADHD will probably then set up an interview with you and two or more sessions with your child before making a final diagnosis.

The evaluator will check on other possible causes of your child’s behavior. To do this, they will check your child’s medical and school records, and ask about what else is going on in your child's life. They may also give your child tests to determine if there might be a learning disorder or some other mental or emotional problem that may be causing the behaviors.

Also, the FDA has approved the use of the Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid (NEBA) System, a noninvasive scan that measures theta and beta brain waves. The theta/beta ratio has been shown to be higher in children and adolescents with ADHD than in children without it. The scan, approved for use in those aged 6 to 17 years, is meant to be used as a part of a complete medical and psychological exam.

It's possible that your child's behavior isn't related to a condition. If they've been through a major life change (such as a move or a divorce, for example), that might also be affecting their behavior. Figuring out what's going on is all part of the evaluation process.

The evaluation may also include interviewing you, your child's teachers, and any other adults who are a big part of your child's life. The evaluator may also ask each of you to complete standardized forms, known as “behavior rating scales,” to rate different aspects of your child’s behavior. These scales may also be used later to track progress with treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on October 07, 2014
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