What Parents Need to Know About ADHD Assessment

by | Oct 2, 2018 | ADHD, Child Health

Dr Frank Chen, Paediatrician, Baulkham Hills NSW
2 October 2018
Are you a parent who has concerns that your child might have attentional difficulties? Perhaps your child’s teacher has suggested you see a paeditrician for further assessment. Or perhaps you have noticed that your child is displaying signs of attention difficulties such as poor planning, disorganisation, forgetfulness, difficulty focusing; or signs of impulsivity. If you are unsure whether your child might benefit from an ADHD assessment or would like to understand better what the process would involve, keep reading.

ADHD Assessment starts with a standard paediatric assessment

The ADHD assessment for children is generally done as a standard paediatric assessment with additional focus on learning and attention problems. The assessment generally takes time as parents need time to tell their story as well as allowing the children themselves to express their own view on their experience with difficulties at home and school. Prior to assessment it is useful for parents to meet with school to discuss specific concerns and difficulties that they have observed.

Then we assist you and your child to tell your story

The ADHD assessment will include taking a history from the parent and the child with regards to presenting behaviours and how it is impacting on the child’s functioning at home and at school. This will include questions related to the timing of the presenting concerns such as when it was first noted and by whom, whether there were any precipitating events or changes and stressors within the family unit or the school. It is also important to note whether any interventions have been attempted either at school or at home to address these issues.  As ADHD can often impact on the child’s self-esteem and peer relationships it is important to determine how the child relates to siblings and friends as well as any strengths and interests that the child may have. Family history is also important particularly if there are other family members who had learning difficulties, developmental problems, and any other neurological problems.

We ask about developmental history

Another aspect of assessment will be looking into the developmental history of the child. This will involve talking about the pregnancy and maternal or paternal medical issues around the time of pregnancy and delivery. History of early infancy and attainment of development milestones is important. Observations from daycare and preschool during early childhood regarding the child’s behaviour and learning are also discussed. Finally, any medical illness that might affect a child’s development in any way will also need to be explored. This may include significant hospitalisations, neurological illness, ear infections, vision problems. Dietary history, sleep hygiene, screen time, and physical activities will also need to be discussed as these are all relevant to attention and learning difficulties.

A physical examination is also conducted

This includes a general physical examination to ensure that they are no signs of medical problems that might be contributing to behaviour difficulties. Weight and height are checked to assess growth.

Learning skills and school performance are reviewed

Assessment of learning skills is usually done by looking at semester term reports from school to see if there are any areas of strength or weakness in different academic domains. Observations and comments in the school report by the teacher are often very useful to gain an insight into a child’s functioning at school.

Further assessments may be required

Depending on the individual child and areas of concerns identified, further assessments might be needed from a psychologist such as psychometric testing to assess the child’s cognitive ability and academic ability, speech and language assessment if a child has speech difficulty, and OT assessment if there are concerns regarding handwriting. If there are signs of emotional problems such as depression or anxiety an assessment by a psychologist would be beneficial. A questionnaire specific to ADHD behaviours will then need to be completed by the parent and teacher to confirm that these symptoms and difficulties are present in more than one setting. Once these assessments are completed the results are then reviewed before finalising the diagnosis of ADHD.

looking for an assessment?

If you, your child’s teacher, or your child’s GP feel that your child would benefit from an ADHD assessment please get in touch with reception on 02 8814 5703 to book a consultation.  

Dr frank chen

Paediatrician, Baulkham Hills NSW
Frank is a general paediatrician with an interest in developmental & behavioural difficulties as well as newborn care. He enjoys helping his patients with a wide range of general paediatric problems including asthma, bed wetting, obesity, feeding, and growth concerns.Frank believes that every child is unique and grows up in a family that plays an important role in their physical and emotional wellbeing. He takes time to get to know each child and family to fully understand their concerns and expectations. Frank assists families to coordinate services for children with complex care needs and works in collaboration with parents and health professionals to achieve the best outcomes for every child.