ADHD Testing & Diagnosis For Children Sydney
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD)
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Behavioural Disorders
- Developmental Delay
- Emotional Disorders and Trauma
- Intellectual Disability
- Learning Difficulty/Disability
Child Assessment & Testing - ADHD Testing & Diagnosis SydneyWhen to test for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children?
1. Your child is highly impulsive and constantly ends up in trouble due to an inability
to control his/her behaviour.
2. Your child has a "short attention span" and he/she is unable remember simple instructions.
3. Your child's teacher or preschool teacher is concerned about behavioural issues or violence towards other children.
4. Your child has no friends because he/she is "too intense" for other children.
5. You or your family is concerned about your child's behaviour or ability to follow instructions.
The following pages provide more information about what is ADHD, how is ADHD tested and diagnosed and what main treatment approaches are available for children. Parents considering an ADHD assessment for their children are also strongly encouraged to watch the ABC program, "Kids on Speed", while available at iview HERE.The program highlights the importance of a detailed assessment to identify ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD and ADD
Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children
Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are characterised by significant difficulty concentrating, overactivity, restlessness and impulsive behaviour noticeable before age 7 years. These children are often rejected by peers and have difficulty socialising. Due to the extreme patience they require from adults, children with ADHD are considerably taxing for families and schools.
Characteristics of ADHD
The key symptoms of ADHD are inattention, overactivity and impulsivity. For a diagnosis of ADHD-Combined Type, symptoms of inattention and overactivity are both required and must be present in more than one context. The behavioural difficulties should be clearly distinguishable from age appropriate behaviour and should lead to significant impairment in the child's overall functioning.
ADHD symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity do not always have to present together. Children may present with predominantly inattentive symptoms or hyperactive symptoms. In these cases, we identify predominantly inattentive or hyperactive subtypes of ADHD. In particular, girls diagnosed with inattentive ADHD often present with concentration difficulties, distractibility and poor attention. They may also come across as shy and withdrawn, showing no behavioural symptoms or hyperactivity. On the contrary, children (particularly boys) with predominantly hyperactive ADHD can come across as overactive and "intense", but at the same time they are able to listen and pay attention to instructions.
The prevalence of "pure" inattentive ADHD is relatively low. ADHD is more commonly associated with a disruption in behavioural inhibition. That is, children with ADHD can understand what social rules are and may have good knowledge what is an appropriate behaviour, but they are unable to regulate their behaviour or impulses.
ADHD is frequently first recognised when the child enters the school system. Therefore, reports from teachers are often the most important sources of information to diagnose ADHD.
The difficulties associated with inattention, overactivity and impulsivity should not be accounted for other childhood emotional disorders , such as depression, trauma or anxiety/tension.
ADHD is often co-diagnosed with other behavioural problems, mainly Conduct Disorder, and specific Learning Disabilities .
Subtypes of ADHD include:
1) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Predominantly Inattentive Type
2) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Predominantly Hyperactive / Impulsive Type
3) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Combined Type
Course and Prognosis of ADHD
The course of ADHD varies considerably. For most children the condition is chronic and tends to last throughout the school years. Although symptoms could persist into adulthood, most children with ADHD become functioning adults.
One of the significant risk factors associated with ADHD is the development of anti-social tendencies. Exclusion from peer groups and arguments with parents and teachers can exacerbate the condition and can lead to deviant behaviour. Understanding parents, teachers and peers can work as "buffers" to protect children with ADHD.
ADHD Testing and Diagnosis Sydney - Testing Process for Children and Adults
Expert tests for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
At Comprehensive Psychology we take a careful and sensitive approach towards the clinical/diagnostic assessments of ADHD. Although we predominantly test children between 4 and 16 years of age, we can also arrange ADHD testing for adults.
Our approach to ADHD testing includes collecting detailed information from parents/caregivers, observation of the child and the administration of structured psychological tests. In some cases more than one ADHD testing session is necessary, particularly if the child's behaviour restricts the assessments process. If a diagnosis of ADHD is made, we will work together with the child's paediatrician and family doctor to formulate an appropriate treatment plan.
What we include in our assessment of ADHD:
Symptoms of ADHD are present from an early age. You should expect a detailed evaluation of early development and functioning. We are interested in broad areas of your child's functioning, including socialising, sleep patterns, speech development, emotional self-regulation and behaviour in different contexts.
ADHD SYMPTOM CHECKLIST
You will be asked to complete a detailed ADHD symptom checklist. To distinguish ADHD symptoms from other difficulties, you will need to complete checklists that include ADHD symptoms as well as emotional functioning.
ASSESSMENT OF DEVELOPMENTAL LEVEL
In order to test ADHD, we need to assess your child's developmental/intellectual level. We need to make sure that your child can understand instructions and he/she is at an age approriate level in terms of cognitive (intellectual) functioning. This phase involves the evaluation of your child's verbal and nonverbal functioning, memory and cognitive processes.
ASSESSMENT OF ATTENTION AND IMPULSE CONTROL
We use specific psychological tests to directly assess your child's attention, concentration and impulse control. The Cognitive Assessment System provides specific ADHD profiles and accurately identifies children who experience attentional difficulties and impulsivity.
Finally, the assessment of ADHD includes our clinical observation and opinion. To complete all the ADHD tests your child will be required to participate in different activities for approximately 3 hours. Children with ADHD often start to show distinct symptoms after 40 minutes to an hour into the assessment. This is particularly the case with tests that require sustained attention and concentration. If and when necessary, we can attend the child's school or preschool to observe his/her behaviour in a natural setting.
ADHD Testing and Assessment Sydney - Treatment of ADHD
How is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) treated?
The treatment for ADHD varies, based on individual child characteristics and severity of presenting symptoms. Contrary to popular beliefs, medication is not the only (or the most successful) treatment method.
In the following sections we outline treatment methods that are proven to work for children with ADHD. For the best outcome, it is suggested that
Treatments Available for ADHD:
Prescribed medications for ADHD belong to the group of medicine called "stimulants". These are either methylphenidate or dexamphetamine, such as Ritalin, Concerta or Strattera. It is important that children taking stimulants are regularly monitored by a family doctor or a paediatrician.
In most cases of ADHD, medication is NOT a long-term or life long solution. Research shows that due to neurological changes in the brain during adolescence, many children with ADHD completely "grow out" of their condition or the severity of symptoms significantly subsides.
Children with ADHD can learn to regulate their behaviour. In fact, medication without behavioural interventions often produces limited outcomes.
Behavioural interventions generally aimed at teaching children to 1) identify problem behaviour, 2) stop and think about consequences, 3) select alternative behaviours, and 4) implement alternative strategies.
Reducing attentional difficulties for children with ADHD requires a concentrated effort that includes the child's home and school environments. There are many different strategies that parents and teachers can use to improve children's ability to sustain their attention.
Attention training usually involves teaching children to use self-commands, focusing strategies and to rely on external (often visual) aids. "Alertness training" teaches children to become aware of their level of awareness, to identify difficult situations (triggers), and to use self-calming strategies to remain calm.
Parenting a child with ADHD can be a difficult and challenging task. Parents can differ in their approach to parenting, ranging from harsh discipline to permissive attitudes. Difficult behaviour and parental differences can also lead to marital discomfort, negatively impacting upon a child's behaviour.
Family therapy (or counselling) can help identifying parental differences and environmental factors that could worsen the symptoms of ADHD for children. Consistency and a calm home environment are key factors in successfully treating children with ADHD. Family counselling provides stregies for parents to deal with differences, to remain calm is difficult situations and essential parenting strategies to change their children's behaviour.
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