How is ADHD Diagnosed?

How is ADHD Diagnosed?Attention deficit disorder can’t be diagnosed based on the presence of one symptom. That’s because it’s not abnormal for people to feel distracted, unfocused and scattered sometimes. Not to mention that ADHD symptoms can be confused with other issues. This leads to misdiagnoses of disorders such as emotional issues and/or learning disabilities. Therefore, only a mental health specialist has the qualifications needed to make an accurate diagnosis.

What You Should Know About Diagnosing ADHD

Just as there’s no single symptom as proof of ADHD, there’s no single test that can determine its existence. A precise diagnosis can only be made with the involvement of a mental health professional or a doctor. Even then, multiple tools are used, including:

  • a symptoms checklist
  • past and present issues are examined
  • medical exam conducted to rule out other symptom-related causes

Always remember that there are various ADHD symptoms that can be confused with other medical issues or disorders. Hyperactivity and concentration problems are two problems that may look like ADHD. But, after a thorough assessment, a professional diagnosis may determine that ADHD doesn’t exist.

Making an Accurate ADHD Diagnosis

If you examine a group ADHD sufferers, you’ll find that the disorder looks different in each individual. This is one reason why there’s a need for such a wide-array of testing measures for helping professionals reach diagnosis. Therefore, potential sufferers must be honest and open during evaluations. That’s the only way for the specialist to come up with an accurate conclusion.

Factors Evaluated with ADHD is Diagnosed

There are some really strong hallmark symptoms related to ADHD. A combination of them is needed for an ADHD diagnosis. Some of the hallmark symptoms include lack of attention, becoming very impulsive and hyperactivity. These are some of the other factors your mental health professional will examine during the assessment:

  • The Severity of the Symptoms – Do the symptoms have a negative impact on the life of the potential sufferer? Generally people with ADHD will exhibit serious problems in in the family relationships, finances and/or careers.
  • The Beginning of the Symptoms – At what age did the ADHD symptoms begin to show themselves? Because ADHD begins during childhood, your therapist or doctor will look into how soon the symptoms appeared. When it comes to adults, they should be traceable all the back to childhood.
  • The Length of the Symptoms – How long have the symptoms been causing a disturbance? If the symptoms have been bothering the potential sufferer for less than six months, a proper ADHD diagnosis can’t be made just yet.
  • The Where and When of the Symptoms – ADHD symptoms have to present within more than one environment, such as at school and home. If symptoms only appear in one setting, more than likely, it’s not related to ADHD.

A proper ADHD diagnosis can be the encouragement you need to get control over your symptoms. Oftentimes, without help, your ADHD symptoms will stop you from obtaining success and happiness in your life. The sooner you begin treatment, the sooner you can take control of your life and your destiny.

Information compliments of Liahona Academy:

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Attention and Learning Problems: Which Came First?

By Karen J. Miller, MD

Attention and Learning Problems: Which Came First?Charlie looks around his first grade classroom when it’s reading time. He needs frequent reminders to get back to work. His teachers and his parents are puzzled why such a bright boy is having trouble in school. Could it be an attention deficit causing the problem? Could a learning problem cause the inattention? How can they help Charlie succeed?

Learning and attention problems are common and can range from mild to severe. From 5 to 10% of school-age children are identified with learning disabilities (LD). At least 5 to 8% are diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD). Many of these children have both. Although the studies vary, 25 to 70% of children with AD/HD have a learning disability and from 15 to 35% of children with LD have AD/HD. There are many children who have milder learning or attentional problems but the additive effects can be significant. Even mild dysfunctions in these critical brain functions can create problems as demands increase in secondary school, college and in life.

Attention and learning are related brain processes, separate but dependent on each other for successful functioning. “Learning” is the way the brain uses and remembers information like a factory taking in raw materials, storing parts and then manufacturing and shipping a finished product. “Attention” involves brain controls which regulate what information gets selected as important and gets acted on.the attention/behavior control system acts like the executives at the factory distributing the “brain energy” budget, setting priorities, deciding what to produce and monitoring quality control. Late shipments or poor quality products could be the result of any number of “glitches” in either system. Minor problems in one system can be compensated for but when both systems are affected failure looms. Sorting out the breakdown points is critical but can be complicated.

Evaluation: Look Beyond Symptoms

Comprehensive assessment is needed as some of the symptoms of learning and attention problems may look similar, at least on the surface. A child may be “distractible” because weak attention controls are unable to filter out unimportant sights or sounds. However, if reading is too difficult the child may look around because it doesn’t make sense. A child might be “disruptive” because their behavior controls are weak and they impulsively call out or annoy others. Some children with learning problems may act-up out of frustration or embarrassment. They would rather be considered “bad” than dumb. Other difficulties that can occur with either learning or attention problems might be:

  • Underachievement despite good potential
  • Inconsistent concentration
  • Difficulty with time-limited tasks
  • Problems with starting/completing work
  • Messy writing or disorganized papers
  • Low self-esteem
  • Problems with peer relations
  • Behavior problems
  • Secondary emotional problems due to repeated failure and frustration


Read more:


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Animal Assisted Therapy Approved for ASHA CEUs

Animal Assisted TherapyIn Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) the human-animal bond is utilized to help meet therapeutic goals and reach individuals who are otherwise difficult to engage in verbal therapies. AAT is considered an emerging therapy at this time, and more research is needed to determine the effects and confirm the benefits. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of research and case studies that illustrate the considerable therapeutic potential of using animals in therapy. AAT has been associated with improving outcomes in four areas: autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and emotional well-being. This course is designed to provide therapists, educators, and caregivers with the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals.

Course #20-62 | 2012 | 30 pages | 20 posttest questions
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Parents of Kids with Autism Earn Less

By Rachael Rettner, MyHealthNewsDaily Staff Writer

Parents of Kids with Autism Earn LessAdriana Lara, a mother in Hutto, Texas, is not able to work because her 5-year old son Joshua has autism. Lara must stay home to give Joshua the care he needs, and to drive him to his therapy sessions five days a week.

“It’s just impossible for me to be able to hold a job and do all these things with Josh,” Lara, 31, said. The family depends on the salary of Lara’s husband, a psychologist at a Veteran’s Affairs hospital.

Joshua’s therapies, including speech, music and occupational therapy, cost about $5,000 a month. Eighty-five percent of the cost is currently covered by a government grant, but the grant will run out this summer, and the family’s insurance policy won’t cover Joshua’s therapies, Lara said.

“We don’t know how we’re going to afford it,” Lara said. While public schools offer autism therapies, Joshua’s school does not offer the type of intensive therapies he needs, Lara said. For instance, the therapies provided by Joshua’s school are not one-on-one, Lara said.

A new study highlights the unique financial burden faced by families of children with autism, like Lara’s. The burden is particularly significant for mothers, the study finds.

On average, mothers of autistic children earn $14,755 less per year than mothers of healthy children, and $7,189 less per year than mothers of children with other health conditions (such as asthma and ADHD) that limit their ability to engage in childhood activities, according to the study.

Despite the fact that they tend to have completed more years of education, mothers of autistic children are 6 percent less likely to be employed, and they work on average 7 hours less weekly than mothers of healthy children, the researchers say.

“We don’t think that autism creates more of a strain on the family per se than other chronic conditions of childhood,” said study researcher David Mandell, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “I think the reason these mothers are leaving the workforce is because the service system for children with autism is so fragmented,” Mandell said.

Health care and workplace policies need to recognize the full impact of autism, and alleviate costs for the families with greatest needs, the researchers concluded, writing in the March 19 issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Higher Bills, Lower Salaries

About 1 in 110 children in the United States have an autism spectrum disorder, a developmental disability that can cause language delays, impaired communication skills and social challenges, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new study results are based on yearly surveys of U.S. households conducted between 2002 and 2008. The study included 64,349 families with healthy children, 2,921 families of children with other health limitations and 261 families of children with autism.

While fathers’ salaries, by themselves, were not affected by having a child with autism, total family income was, the study showed. On average, families with autistic children earned $17,763 less than families with healthy children, and $10,416 less than families with children with other health limitations.

As Lara’s story shows, having a child with autism may limit the parents’ abilities to work because these children require more care. Finding quality, specialized childcare for autistic children may be difficult and costly, the researchers say.

“A traditional daycare setting really is really not conducive,” for children with autism to thrive, said Carolyn Price, whose 7-year old son has autism. Autistic children are very sensitive to sights and sounds, and may be overwhelmed at a day care, Price said.

When Price’s son was in daycare — before he was diagnosed with autism — he would bite other children because he couldn’t cope with the environment, Price said. In addition, autistic children need one-on-one interaction that is generally not feasible at day care, Price said.

When Price’s son, also named Joshua, was young and had to be at home, she and her husband felt uncomfortable having anyone beside themselves or close friends look after him.

“It’s really challenging when you have a child with special needs, to really turn that responsibility over to someone else and feel like they are getting the best care,” Price said. Price’s husband Joel still works only part time, so he can drive his son to therapy sessions.

Financial Support

Children with autism need to be immersed in their therapies in order to benefit, Price said. Providing therapy one day a week, when a child needs five sessions, won’t have the same impact, Price said.

In 2010, Price and her husband started a non-profit organization called Imagine a Way to provide financial assistance to families with autistic children. The organization focuses trying to provide funds to support for children for two years.

While other nonprofits and government subsidies offer support to families of children with autism, it’s often comes in the form of a little bit at a time, Price said.

“There’s a recognized need for it, I just don’t think there’s a consolidated organization like Autism Speaks, that’s able to do something on a major scale,” Price said. While any source of funding is valuable, “For the magnitude of what these kids need, a little bit is just not enough,” Price said.

Pass it on: Autism places a significant financial burden on families.


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Animal Assisted Therapy – New Online Course!

Animal Assisted Therapy

Click to view course details

In Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) the human-animal bond is utilized to help meet therapeutic goals and reach individuals who are otherwise difficult to engage in verbal therapies. AAT is considered an emerging therapy at this time, and more research is needed to determine the effects and confirm the benefits. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of research and case studies that illustrate the considerable therapeutic potential of using animals in therapy. AAT has been associated with improving outcomes in four areas: autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and emotional well-being. This course is designed provide therapists, educators, and caregivers with the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals.

The author, Lois Jean Brady, MA, CCC-SLP, is a practicing speech-language pathologist registered in animal-assisted therapy. She has a very loveable potbelly pig named Buttercup who accompanies her to therapy sessions, where he enhances her work with students on the spectrum. Buttercup has made a lasting impression on students, staff, and caregivers – essentially all who meet him. He has helped some students attain their goals and others just feel safer and more secure in the therapy environment, allowing them to focus their attention on a task. He has heard many students utter their first words, start conversations, or ask questions. He has been combed, brushed, fed, and cared for by many students. Lois has found that having an animal creates an atmosphere of trust that motivates children to expand their skills, strive to do their best, and strengthen the relationship between them and her.

Rosy Chu interviews Lois and Buttercup on KTVU Bay Area People:

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Kids with ADHD More Likely to Sustain Injuries

Via Scoop.itHealthcare Continuing Education

Kids with Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more prone to injuries than kids without the disorder, a new study suggests.
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Binge Eating Increasing Amongst Men

Via Scoop.itHealthcare Continuing Education

Writer Ron Saxen says binge eating destroyed his modeling career and relationships before he got help.
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How ADHD Affects Obesity, Weight and Healthy Eating Habits

Via Scoop.itHealthcare Continuing Education

The link between ADHD and poor eating habits isn’t surprising when you consider that it is a disorder of executive function, a set of cognitive skills which act as our brain manager. Executive function impacts almost every aspect of living, encompassing our ability to self-regulate, organize, plan, prioritize, and anticipate the future. Eating is only one of many facets of ordinary life influenced by ADHD, yet typically flies under the radar.
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ADHD Awareness Week 2011

Via Scoop.itHealthcare Continuing Education

Just about every mainstream medical, psychological, and educational organization in the U.S. long ago concluded that ADHD is a real, brain-based medical disorder, and that children and adults with ADHD benefit from appropriate treatment. So, do you know what appropriate treatment is? Are you up-to-date on what kind of help is available? A lot has changed in the last 20 and even in just the last five years. Get strategic. Learn more.
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Free Borderline Disorder Call In Series

Via Scoop.itHealthcare Continuing Education

Free BPD Call In Series

Thanks to the generosity of the professional borderline personality disorder community, the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder will be hosting lectures on the phone providing the larger community the opportunity to hear the latest information and research on the disorder.

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