How to get a true diagnosis on ADD/ADHD

There are many forms of tests that can be administered to diagnose ADD/ADHD. Some children are being diagnosed with having it without having any formal tests run on them. Instead, the diagnosis is coming from schoolteachers that in most cases are not qualified to diagnose the disorder. Yes, they are qualified to recognize the symptoms of ADD/ADHD and their concerns should be taken seriously. On the other hand, many children go through life without ever being diagnosed and face unnecessary struggles.

There is not just one simple test that can be used to give an accurate diagnosis, rather; there is a series of tests. The reason being that symptoms of Attention Deficity Disorder (ADD/ADHD) can also be symptoms of other things, such as food allergies, depression or anxiety, other specific learning disabilities, autism, dyslexia, hearing problems, early onset bi-polar disorder, Tourette�s syndrome, or even Thyroid problems. The first step should be to see a primary care physician for a physical examination. This will help to rule out any thing else that may be causing similar symptoms.

The second step should be to find a mental health professional that specializes in ADD/ADHD for an evaluation and to administer formal testing. Insurance companies should have a list of recommended doctors or the primary care physician may be able to make a recommendation. It may also be helpful to call your local CHADD, Children with ADD, and and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, office.

Step three may be a thorough evaluation of a family member of the person with ADD/ADHD symptoms. This evaluation should include developmental history, and family history.

Then finally, formal ADD/ADHD tests can be administered such as DSM-IV Criteria (symptoms of ADHD), T.O.V.A. (computerized test), WISC-R (IQ test), WRAT (achievement test), or Bender Gestalt Test (visual motor integration test). The physician will determine which tests he or she will administer.

The T.O.V.A. (Test of Variables of Attention) is a very helpful tool that can be used in conjunction with other testing for the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD or to monitor the progress of a certain therapy used to treat the disorder. The T.O.V.A., a 22.5 minute computerized test (visual or auditory), is non-language based (to differentiate ADD from specific learning disorders), requires no left-right discrimination, and has negligible practice effects. Variables measured by T.O.V.A. include errors of omission (inattention) and commission (impulsivity), response times, etc. It accurately identifies 87% of normal and 90% of ADD/ADHD subjects. Again, the T.O.V.A. can used before utilizing any ADD/ADHD medications and then after, so that the physician can monitor its effectiveness and make adjustments to the dosage if necessary.

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