Table of Contents

ADHD Testing and Evaluation

If you or a loved one is dealing with issues such as a lack of focus, persistent and pervasive difficulties with attention, impulsiveness, or hyperactivity that are interfering with daily activities, this could be a sign of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

We use industry-leading assessments and testing frameworks to accurately diagnose ADHD in individuals across all ages. Our team is committed to ensuring the ADHD testing process is as stress-free as possible, equipping you with the knowledge and tools to effectively manage this condition. If you’re wondering, “Do I have ADHD?” experience the relief of understanding and addressing ADHD with the help of our compassionate and professional team.

What Is ADHD Evaluation and Who Benefits From It?

An ADHD assessment is a thorough evaluation process designed to accurately diagnose Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The process includes a variety of techniques and methodologies, such as conducting clinical interviews, observing behavior, and running neurocognitive tests. If persistent issues with attention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity that are affecting daily life, school, or work are a part of you or your loved one’s life, an ADHD assessment might be a beneficial step. This process helps in better understanding and tackling these challenges and produces an accurate diagnosis for ADHD.

Everyone from individuals suspecting they may have ADHD to those who were diagnosed at an earlier age and wonder whether they still meet criteria for ADHD can gain value from an ADHD evaluation. Regular assessments help track progress, adjust interventions, and provide continuous support. The goal is always to enhance one’s life by developing personalized strategies that empower individuals to manage their ADHD symptoms optimally. ADHD has no one-size fits all approach, and an ADHD evaluation is a crucial step in identifying person-specific avenues for treatment.

Who Is Competent to Diagnose ADHD?

Diagnosing ADHD requires a specialized skill set and professional experience. Licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, and certain pediatricians typically have the necessary expertise to diagnose ADHD. These professionals have received extensive training to carry out comprehensive evaluations, each playing their part.

Psychiatrists: Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental health. They are trained in diagnosing and treating various mental health conditions, including ADHD. They can assess your symptoms, review your medical history, and consider any underlying factors that may contribute to your symptoms. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication and provide ongoing management for ADHD.

Psychologists: Psychologists have expertise in assessing and diagnosing mental health conditions. They often use interviews, questionnaires, and psychological assessments to evaluate ADHD symptoms. While psychologists cannot prescribe medication, they can provide therapy, behavioral interventions, and recommend other non-pharmacological strategies for managing ADHD.

Pediatricians and Family Physicians: Primary care doctors, such as pediatricians and family physicians, are often the first point of contact for individuals seeking an ADHD diagnosis, particularly for children. They can assess symptoms, gather information from parents, teachers, and other sources, and make a preliminary diagnosis. They may also refer individuals to specialists for further evaluation or treatment.

Neurologists: Neurologists specialize in diagnosing and treating disorders related to the brain and nervous system. While their focus is primarily on neurological conditions, they may have the expertise to diagnose ADHD, especially if there are concerns about neurological factors contributing to the symptoms.

Clinical Guidelines for ADHD Diagnosis

Healthcare professionals often refer to the DSM-5 to guide the diagnosis of ADHD and ensure consistency in diagnostic practices. It outlines specific criteria related to inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, along with the duration and impact of symptoms.

ADHD presents with three primary subtypes:

  • Inattentiveness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Combined

Predominantly Inattentive individuals struggle with focus and organization. Those with the Hyperactive or Impulsive type exhibit restlessness and make impulsive decisions. Individuals with the Combined type of display symptoms from both of the other types.

Understanding that each ADHD subtype requires a unique approach to management and treatment is critical. Recognizing specific symptoms and their impact on daily life is vital for devising an effective care plan, and these clinical guidelines act as a beacon, guiding clinicians in delivering individualized care.

Testing for ADHD in Children

Detecting and addressing ADHD early in children can lead to considerable improvements in their academic performance and social interactions. During the testing process, we create a nurturing and supportive environment for children. This process encompasses observing the children’s behavior, collecting feedback from teachers and parents, and carrying out age-appropriate tests.

When we test for ADHD in children, it is essential to highlight that their comfort is prioritized throughout the entire testing process. The tests are designed to be engaging and child-friendly, reducing the potential for stress or anxiety.

ADHD testing can be conducted for children as young as preschool age. However, it is important to note that diagnosing ADHD in young children can be challenging due to the normal developmental changes and variability in behavior at that age. The diagnostic process may differ slightly based on the child’s age and developmental stage.

Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Preschool-age children (ages 3-5): For children in this age group, ADHD evaluations primarily rely on observations and reports from parents, caregivers, and preschool teachers. The assessment may involve structured interviews, behavior rating scales, and direct observations of the child’s behavior in different settings. It is essential to gather information about the child’s behavior over time to determine if the symptoms persist across various contexts.
  2. School-age children (ages 6-12): ADHD testing in school-age children typically involves a more comprehensive evaluation. This may include interviews with parents and teachers, rating scales completed by both parties, and behavioral observations. The assessment may also involve reviewing the child’s academic performance, behavior in the classroom, and interactions with peers. The mental health care professional may also consider any existing medical or psychological conditions and rule out other potential causes for the child’s symptoms.
  3. Adolescents (ages 12 and older): The diagnostic process for adolescents is similar to that of adults. It involves clinical interviews, self-report questionnaires, collateral information from parents and teachers, and consideration of the DSM-5 criteria for ADHD. Adolescents may also be asked about their academic performance, social interactions, and any associated difficulties they may be experiencing.

Testing for ADHD in Adults

According to a recent study from The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders (PCC), a leading medical journal, ADHD in adults is underreported and underdiagnosed. Unknowingly living with ADHD can have a significant impact on an individual’s work, relationships, and mental health.

The process for ADHD testing in adults typically involves the following steps:

  1. Initial Assessment: The healthcare professional conducts an initial assessment to gather information about the individual’s symptoms, personal history, and current functioning. This may involve a clinical interview and the completion of self-report questionnaires.
  2. Clinical Interview: The healthcare professional conducts a detailed interview to explore the individual’s symptoms, developmental history, and any relevant medical or psychological factors. They may ask about childhood symptoms, academic and work performance, relationships, and overall functioning.
  3. Self-Report Measures: Standardized questionnaires and rating scales specifically designed to assess ADHD symptoms in adults are administered. These measures ask individuals to rate the frequency and severity of various ADHD symptoms they have experienced.
  4. Collateral Information: Information from collateral sources, such as close family members, partners, or friends, may be sought to gain additional perspective on the individual’s behavior, symptoms, and overall functioning in different settings.
  5. Rule Out Other Conditions: The healthcare professional evaluates whether the symptoms can be better explained by other medical or psychiatric conditions that may mimic or coexist with ADHD. This may involve considering conditions such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders, or substance use disorders.
  6. Psychological Assessments: Depending on the healthcare professional’s judgment, additional psychological testing may be conducted to assess cognitive functioning, attention, executive functioning, and other relevant areas.
  7. Diagnostic Evaluation: The healthcare professional reviews the information gathered from the assessment process, including the clinical interview, self-report measures, collateral information, and any additional assessments. They consider the diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5 and make a determination regarding an ADHD diagnosis.
  8. Feedback and Treatment Planning: The healthcare professional provides feedback to the individual, discussing the assessment findings, the diagnosis (if applicable), and treatment options. They collaborate with the individual to develop a comprehensive treatment plan, which may include medication, psychoeducation, therapy, behavioral interventions, and support strategies.

Brain Wave Test for ADHD

The brain wave test, otherwise known as Quantitative Electroencephalography (QEEG), is a secondary testing tool used to measure and analyze brain wave patterns that are ADHD-associated. As a fully non-invasive testing procedure, the brain wave test involves placing specialized sensors on various points around the scalp to record electrical activity. The results of a brain wave test provide valuable data that can enhance the accuracy of an ADHD diagnosis and give additional context to other testing frameworks. Brain wave tests are not standalone tests and must be used in combination with additional methodologies to confirm an accurate diagnosis.

QbTest for ADHD

The Quantified Behavior Test (QbTest) is a computerized assessment tool used in ADHD diagnosis. It combines motion tracking analysis with an attention ability test, providing a visual representation of a person’s activity and attention levels. The collected data is analyzed and compared with data from a control group and aids in the overall ADHD diagnosis process. This objective data can be invaluable in supporting a diagnosis of ADHD.

ADHD Diagnosis and Workplace Accommodations

A formal diagnosis of ADHD can be a step to necessary workplace accommodations, creating a more supportive and productive work environment. These accommodations may include flexibility in work hours, provision of a quiet workspace, or additional breaks, all aimed at maximizing productivity and well-being.

While many people with ADHD might fear that an ADHD diagnosis can lead to negative reactions from co-workers, in modern times, there is a far greater level of understanding and empathy from colleagues and superiors. Covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a person on the ADHD spectrum is legally allowed to request accommodations for their symptoms.

ADHD Diagnosis and Classroom Accommodations

With almost 10% of children in the U.S. being diagnosed with ADHD, classroom accommodations for people with ADHD have come a long way, even from a few decades ago. An official ADHD diagnosis can result in essential classroom accommodations that greatly enhance children’s learning experiences. These may encompass preferential seating arrangements, extended time for tests, or additional guidance from educators. These measures provide the necessary support for students with ADHD, enabling them to reach their full academic potential and make the most out of each learning experience.

Online ADHD Testing and Diagnosis

With advances in technology, online ADHD testing and diagnosis have become increasingly popular. While they may provide some insights or raise awareness about ADHD symptoms, they are not reliable or sufficient for making an accurate diagnosis.

Many online tests or quizzes lack scientific validation and may not be based on recognized diagnostic criteria. They often rely on self-reported information, which can be subjective and prone to biases. ADHD symptoms can overlap with other conditions, and a proper evaluation is necessary to rule out alternative explanations for the symptoms. They provide generalizations that may not capture the unique nuances and complexities of an individual’s situation. A comprehensive ADHD evaluation conducted by a mental health care professional involves a thorough assessment of various domains to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.

photo of LifeStance provider Natalie Grandy, PhD
Medically Reviewed By:
Natalie Grandy, PhD
View Profile

Dr. Grandy works with adults whose concerns range from the stress of normal life to severe and debilitating mood and anxiety disorders. Areas of specialty include treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and clinical assessment.