Comprehensive ADHD Assessment
Concern about ADHD remains one of the most common referrral reasons to mental health professionals (Brown, 2000). And, unfortunately, it is also overdiagnosed in our culture and therefore many children are unnecessarily diagnosed and inappropriately medicated. As a licensed psychologist, Dr. Wilson uses an array of psychological tests, including standardized, objective measures to rule out the many other causes or conditions that can 'mask' or look like ADHD. The WPA ADHD examination is an extensive process that involves approximately four to five hours of testing, as well as gathering essential information from the child’s parent(s) and the child’s teacher. While Dr. Wilson uses these collateral informant behavior rating forms, they alone do not take into account the many other causes of inattentive or hyperactive behavior and therefore, if used solely as the basis for identification of ADHD symptoms, may lead to an inaccurate diagnosis. Therefore, Dr. Wilson also utilizes many objective measures to assist in identification of problems. Dr. Wilson is known to conduct comprehensive evaluations to effectively rule out the other conditions that may appear like ADHD symptoms before making this important diagnosis. Dr. Wilson's philosophy is that every child or adult referred is "neuro-typical" until a body of consistent data suggests otherwise.
What is ADHD (ADD)?
- Failing to give close attention to details and making careless mistakes
- Having difficulty sustaining attention
- Not appearing to listen
- Struggling to follow through with instructions
- Having difficulty with organizing tasks
- Avoiding or disliking tasks that require sustained mental effort
- Being forgetful in daily activities
- To be excessively restless
- To fidget with hands or feet or squirm in the chair
- To have difficulty remaining seated when expected
- To run about or climb excessively
- To talk excessively
- To create disruption in activities in which he/she is expected to do quietly
- To have difficulty waiting one's turn
- To interrupt or intrude upon others
Why is a comprehensive multimodal method necessary for diagnosis and for guiding treatment?
Second, many of the symptoms for ADHD are displayed by all children, adolescents, and adults on occasion or to some degree.
Third, some of the same or similar symptoms are found in other disorders as well as ADHD. Mental disorders are not discreet, that is, the symptoms of one frequently overlap with symptoms of another and may appear to be one from a singular view, while a comprehensive evaluation helps tease apart the different symptom manifestations.
Fourth, other conditions, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and other disorders of childhood, are found to frequently co-exist with ADHD in many children. The co-existence of other concerns is also at issue in adolescents and adults with ADHD. Learning disabilities experienced by many children with ADHD further complicate the task of identifying the scope of the difficulty and in providing the most effective treatment.
Finally, treatment of ADHD, as well as for other disorders, often includes the use of medication. Such an important choice should only be made with a thorough understanding of the range of the problems experienced by the individual child, adolescent, or adult and with the need for such a serious intervention being well established. A comprehensive assessment provides information addressing these concerns.
What is involved in a thorough assessment?
A word about adolescent and adult ADHD
In adolescence the symptom presentation generally shifts from the prominent impulsivity and hyperactivity of childhood to a correspondingly greater experience of challenges with poor organization, forgetfulness, excessive daydreaming, poor follow through on tasks, the needing of excessive direction, and engaging in risky behavior. In adults, undiagnosed and unmanaged symptoms can lead to underachievement in work and social relationships. In addition, difficulty associated with organization, procrastination, inattention when receiving or processing information, compromised tolerance for frustration, displays of irritability, and forgetfulness are but some of the experiences of adults with ADHD.