More than 6 million children in the United States are diagnosed with ADHD. This is one of the most common disorders affecting children, with many more who are undiagnosed. Psychological testing can help these children receive an official diagnosis and begin the proper treatment. Read on to find out how to determine if your child has ADHD.
Common Symptoms of ADHD in Children
ADHD manifests in children in several ways. The following are some of the most notable symptoms seen in children with ADHD:
Easy Distraction and Inability to Focus
One of the most prominent signs of ADHD is a child who is easily distracted. While distraction is not uncommon in small children, those with ADHD experience it so frequently that it interferes with their ability to function.
Distraction in children with ADHD may look like a child who cannot carry on a conversation due to noises or background activity. These children may find it hard to focus in school due to the presence of other children, room decor, or environmental distractions.
Squirming and Fidgeting
A common symptom in children with ADHD is the inability to sit still. Children with ADHD often squirm, get out of their seats, or fidget with nearby objects when asked to remain in place.
This can often be notable in school settings. When seated at a desk for long periods of time, children with ADHD may begin to fidget with objects or consistently get up from their desks.
Challenges with Following Directions
Difficulty following directions is not abnormal for children who are still learning how to perform many functions. The difference in children with ADHD is a consistent and pronounced inability to follow directions.
Many children with ADHD show a chronic inability to follow simple instructions, even ones with which they are familiar. Parents and teachers may find that they ask the child to perform the same task over and over again, and the child continuously has a difficult time completing the task.
Difficulty Completing Tasks
If your child is prone to leaving tasks unfinished, they may be struggling with ADHD. Children who have ADHD often start on tasks but will lose focus or get sidetracked. This may look like quitting a game when it’s not finished, leaving a coloring page unfinished, or asking to change a movie before it’s over.
For these children, focusing on the same activity for a long time can be challenging. This leads them to consistently seek the next activity before the current one is complete.
Interrupting or Talking Over Others
While some children are naturally very talkative, they are often taught to wait their turn when being spoken to. This can be especially difficult for children who have ADHD. They often experience impatience and impulsivity in conversations. This can lead them to talk over others or interject when others are speaking.
Diagnosing ADHD in Children
If your child is exhibiting symptoms of ADHD, getting a proper diagnosis is essential to begin treatment. Left untreated, ADHD can have a severe impact on your child’s academic performance, social skills, and behavioral growth.
Diagnosing ADHD in children includes a series of specific tests and evaluations. These are all part of psychological testing, which is used to assess how your child views and navigates the world around them. Evaluating the mental, emotional, and behavioral patterns in children is necessary for obtaining an accurate ADHD diagnosis.
Psychological testing is composed of various tests that can determine if there is an ADHD diagnosis. The most commonly used tests and clinical tools when diagnosing ADHD in children include the following:
Interviews with Family
Diagnosing ADHD in children relies heavily on information provided by family members. Children are often unaware of their behavioral patterns, especially younger children.
To properly diagnose ADHD in a child, experts must interview the parents, siblings, other family members, and even teachers or other caregivers who are frequently present in that child’s life. This information provides valuable insight into how the child behaves.
Family members will also be asked to complete questionnaires or other forms to provide more information on their child’s behavior. These questionnaires often inquire about how the child behaves at home and school, how they handle conflict, and how they socialize with others.
Behavioral Rating Scales
Behavior rating scales are a critical part of ADHD diagnosis in children, as they help quantify the frequency and severity of symptoms. A behavior rating scale for ADHD is used to assess the following common symptoms:
- Squirming and fidgeting
- Inability to complete tasks
- Difficulty sitting still or staying quiet
- Interrupting others
- Inability to follow directions
- Level of distraction
Children who exhibit most of these symptoms on a behavioral rating scale may be struggling with ADHD. Using the scale, experts can work with family members to determine how often these symptoms are displayed and to what extent they affect the child’s ability to function.
Psychological testing often involves a client interview to better understand the individual’s struggles and symptoms. These interviews are used to gain insight into the client’s personal feelings, behaviors, and emotional responses to various areas of life.
When diagnosing ADHD in a child, these interviews can also serve observational purposes. Experts can watch how the child behaves during the interview process to look for signs and symptoms of ADHD.
ADHD Assessments at Newport Beach Family Development Center
Seeking treatment for a child with ADHD shouldn’t be difficult. This is why the team of professionals at Newport Beach Family Development goes above and beyond to ensure the easiest journey through your child’s ADHD treatment.
We work directly with the family to test and diagnose ADHD properly. From there, we design a customized treatment plan that meets your child’s unique needs. Our integrative approach can help your child work through their ADHD and better navigate the world around them. If you are interested in psychological testing to find out if your child has ADHD, contact us today. We offer a free consultation with a psychologist to answer any questions and provide additional insight into how testing can benefit your child.