Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tests to Diagnose ADHD - How Reliable and Definitive Can They Be?

There has been a lot of criticism about the way ADHD is diagnosed. While various questionnaires and interviews of parents and teachers are used, there is still no reliable diagnostic test to diagnose ADD and ADHD. Many parents refuse to accept that a test for ADHD exists which will pinpoint a brain defect. That is the rather simplistic definition which the drug industry likes and will immediately offer a ADHD medication solution once the test for ADHD has been 'confirmed'.

Now the classical procedure to test for ADHD is set out in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition) as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The actual exam or doctor's visit will consist of a physical examination of the child and there will be clinical interviews with the parents and the child. This is mainly to exclude other conditions such as depression hallucinations and so on. The child's teacher will be asked to fill out an assessment form. The TOVA (Test of Variables of Attention) is also filled out. None of these tools as a test for ADHD are very accurate in a clinical sense because they are subjective.

Following the DSM guidelines, the doctor or paediatrician will then try to establish from the results of the test for ADHD whether there is any impairment or hindrance in the child's development. That is key. If there is no impairment then there is no disorder. A child may have lots of symptoms of ADHD but if his physical and social development is on a par with his peers, then he does NOT have ADHD.

In assessing all the information from the tests and questionnaires, the doctor will be assessing how long the symptoms have been present and from what age. Are they periodic or chronic by now ? What is the functional disorder present due to, or caused by these symptoms ? Is the child falling behind at school and are the relationships with his peers causing tensions and other problems?

The answers to these questions following the DSM will usually help the doctor to make a diagnosis.

To medicate or not to medicate ? This is the burning question parents have to face once the test for ADHD is over and a diagnosis for ADHD has been confirmed. As the standard conventional ADHD medications are addictive - about 20% of teenagers with ADHD are or will become substance abusers- parents have to make a choice. Certainly natural ADHD treatments are not addictive at all and there are no worrying side effects. Time to take a long hard look at these AHD alternative therapies which will be effective and do not cause withdrawal symptoms. The site below will answer any questions you may have.

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