Doctors use specific criteria for determining if ADHD is present in a child. The criteria are found in what is known as the DSM-IV. This book is full of different medical conditions along with their symptoms. Generally, this requires the parent and teacher to complete a checklist for the physician. They may also want you to comply with certain procedures or testing to determine if ADHD is truly the problem present in your child.
Understanding Different Types of ADHDAn ADHD diagnosis actually encompasses three basic types of ADHD; inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and combination. To qualify for an ADHD diagnosis, a child must fall into at least one of the first two categories. There are different criteria for each category.
In the inattentive criteria, a child must display at least six different inattentive symptoms for at least six months. The symptoms must interfere with the child’s life or be inconsistent with that of normal development. The following criteria are found under the inattentive section of the DSM-IV:
- Failure to provide close attention to detail to tasks or makes careless mistakes in work, school work, or other important activities.
- Displays difficulty in sustaining attention in play and/or other activities.
- Seems to not listen, even when spoken to directly.
- Frequently fails to follow through with instructions, complete school work, chores, or tasks within the work place. (These issues should not be related to oppositional behavior or inability to understand the instructions given.)
- Frequently experiences difficulty in organizing tasks or activities
- My dislike or try to avoid certain tasks that are difficult to follow through with.
- Easily distracted by excessive surrounding stimulation.
- Often forgets.
Criteria for hyperactivity-impulsive ADHD are as follows:
- Fidgets, experiences difficulty sitting still.
- Frequently leaves seat during class or other activities that require extended seated time.
- Runs, climbs, jumps in times or situations that are not appropriate. Adolescents may simply feel restless.
- Experiences difficulty in being quiet during play or other activities.
- Seems to always be “on the go.”
- Excessive talking.
- Blurts out answers before hearing the entire question.
- Interrupts or intrudes on others.
- Experiences difficulty in waiting for their turn.
Children can also display symptoms from both categories. However, there must be at least six of the criteria met from one of the categories.
In addition to the above criteria, there are other criteria that must be present in a child before diagnosis can take place. These are also outlined by the DSM-IV in Sections B-E. These include:
- Impairment from the symptoms should be present in two or more locations. This means that the child should display the symptoms at school and at home, not just one or the other.
- The symptoms must actually interfere with the child’s ability to perform in these settings.
- The symptoms should not be present only during the evaluation of other possible disorders like schizophrenia, mood disorder, or personality disorder.
It should also be known that, while diagnosis cannot be determined before the age of 7, some of the symptoms may be displayed before the age of 7. Some parents even claim that they recognized symptoms as early as 2. However, because of the active nature of young children and shorter attention spans, diagnosis will not take place at this time.
For proper diagnosis, symptoms must be present for at least six months during the time of evaluation. The category that is met will determine the type of ADHD that is present in the child. According to the DSM-IV, if both the hyperactivity and inattentive criteria are met, then the diagnosis should be for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type. If only the inattentive criteria are met, the diagnosis will fall under Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive. If only the hyperactivity criteria are met, the diagnosis will be classified as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive. There is also a fourth classification that is rarely diagnosed. However, it is in place for certain situations. This category is for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
It is important to remember that only a doctor can properly diagnose ADHD. Even if you suspect and are certain that your child has this condition, you need to address it with your child’s pediatrician. This will ensure that a proper diagnosis takes place. It will also help you get proper treatment for your child, helping them to succeed in their future.