Testing for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

Psychological testing

Psychological testing for ADHD symptoms generally consists of obtaining multiple types of assessments. These usually include a clinical interview reviewing the DSM-IV criteria for ADHD diagnosis. The interview also needs to rule out as much as possible other types of syndromes which can cause attention problems, such as depression, anxiety, allergies and psychosis. Rating scales can be administered which provide measurement of the person's own view of their symptoms, as well as the views of parents, teachers, and significant others.

Finally, computerized tests of attention can be helpful in providing a further independent assessment. These different assessments may not be consistent, but do provide a view of the person's difficulties. Subjectivity of the analysis can be compounded by the fact that physicians generally need not order psychological testing in order to make the diagnosis of ADHD, but many doctors use this kind of assessment to avoid over-diagnosis and treatment. In the USA, the process of obtaining referrals for such assessments is being promoted vigorously by the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.

Other forms of testing

Neurometrics, PET scans, or SPECT scans have been used for a more objective diagnosis. However, these are not usually suitable for very young children.