Health Team

Diagnosing The Many Faces of ADHD

Posted October 7, 2013

Joe, a little boy in first grade, is a challenge. Nearly every day this week, he's gotten into trouble, whether it's roughhousing too much at recess or running around the classroom during circle time, he has a hard time listening to his teacher and behaving in class.

Kevin is in that same classroom. Although the class has just gotten back from lunch, he's already fidgety, bouncing up and down in his seat. Even though he knows he should raise his hand and wait for the teacher to call on him, he can't, and blurts out the answer.

Sara is in that same classroom. She's not fidgety or loud. Instead, she's looking out the window, daydreaming. When the teacher calls her name to get her attention, she blushes as she looks around, trying to figure out what activity the class is involved in, since she's lost track.

Although their behaviors may be different, each of these children has symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.

What is ADHD?

The National Institute of Mental Health says that ADHD is one of the most common childhood brain disorders. Although scientists don't know exactly what causes the disorder, it may be a combination of genetics, environmental factors, and food sensitivity. Brain imaging suggests that children with ADHD may have delays in certain areas of the brain that regulate thinking, paying attention and planning.

Some studies report that 3 – 7% of children have ADHD, but parents say the number is much higher, and additional studies say that number is increasing.

Symptoms of ADHD

ADHD often has three typical major symptoms: hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattentiveness. A hyperactive child may seem like a "whirling dervish," always in motion. He may not be able to sit for long periods. He may constantly run around the room, talk non-stop or fidget or squirm when sitting or standing, or have difficulty doing quiet tasks.

A child with impulsivity has little concept of consequences. He may chase a ball into the street without thinking to look first for cars. He may interrupt conversations to ask questions, not knowing how to wait or take turns. He may blurt out comments without sensitivity.

A child who is inattentive is often forgetful and easily distracted. She may leave her desk to find a pencil and forget her mission, coming back to her chair 10 minutes later, empty-handed. She may have trouble starting projects because they seem overwhelming, or completing projects because they seem boring.

Any child may show some signs of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattentiveness at some time, but children with ADHD exhibit multiple signs over a period of time, and in different environments.

Diagnosing ADHD

Kids who have ADHD but have not been properly diagnosed often struggle in school. Their behavior can be misunderstood and the children are seen as problem students, unmotivated, and less capable than they really are. As adults, undiagnosed ADHD can affect work performance and family relationships.

Diagnosing ADHD early is important. Once a child has been diagnosed, parents can consider treatment options as well as work with the schools to ensure the student has the support needed. But diagnosing ADHD isn't so easy. Because there is no widely used procedure to accurately test for ADHD, doctors rely primarily on assessments of the child's behavior to create a diagnosis. Until now. Dr. Sandeep Vaishnavi, Director of the Neuropsychiatric Clinic at Carolina Partners has recently begun offering the Quotient ADHD Test, ”…the only neural assessment tool that objectively measures micro-motion and analyzes shifts in attention state.” Now, parents and physicians can take the guess-work out of diagnosing ADHD in children, and get definitive answers and solutions fast. The Neuropsychiatric Clinic at Carolina Partners is now offering testing for ages 6 and up.

That's why it is important to find a physician skilled in mental health with the experience to ask all the right questions to ensure a correct diagnosis. The physicians at Carolina Partners in Mental HealthCare\ have long been a trusted resource for quality, compassionate mental health care. Carolina Partners' Neuropsychiatric Clinic is now offering ADHD diagnostic evaluations for children 6 and up. With the same quality and compassionate care, Carolina Partners offers parents the right answers to help children get the treatment they need.

Carolina Partners in Mental HealthCare is an advertising partner of, but each article is intended to be educational and informative in nature.


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