Getting your child assessed for ADHD What parents need to know…..

Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of them developmental and behavioural disorders. Each child with ADHD will present differently with their symptoms and challenges occurring along a continuum. A diagnosis of ADHD is made when established diagnostic criteria are met. Parents may become concerned when they notice that their child has a short attention span, is reckless, or is very active.

A good starting point is to share your concerns with others who know your child well. This could be family members, class teachers, or early childhood educators. These people spend a lot of time with your child in different environments and can provide useful input. It is possible that their observations will differ from yours which can help inform the diagnosis. A diagnosis of ADHD requires that the child’s symptoms are present and cause impairment in more than one setting.

Not every child who is inattentive, impulsive and overactive has ADHD


A medical evaluation starts with a discussion with your GP who can make a referral to an appropriate specialist. The best-practice medical approach to making a developmental-behavioural diagnosis involves several appointments to ensure that the correct diagnosis is made.

Symptoms of ADHD occur along a continuum. Often, a child will have associated deficits and co-morbidities. While some medical conditions such as sleep disorders, learning differences, mood disorders and anxiety can co-exist with ADHD, they can also produce similar behaviours on their own and be misdiagnosed as ADHD. Additionally other issues such as conduct disorders or oppositional defiance may co-exist.

It is important therefore to have a comprehensive assessment carried out by a paediatrician, psychiatrist, or clinical psychologist with experience in child development and behaviour. A comprehensive assessment will determine if your child meets the clinical criteria for ADHD, explore alternative explanations for the behaviour and establish whether your child has ADHD together with another diagnosis. 

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