IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT ADULT ADHD EVALUATIONS
An evaluation for adult ADHD requires at least two appointments due to it being a detailed process. The diagnostic criteria for ADHD are very specific and extend beyond the existence of symptoms. Our psychologists follow recommended standards of practice when evaluating a patient for ADHD. If we cannot determine that the patient meets all diagnostic criteria, the diagnosis cannot be made.
There is no test that confirms a diagnosis of ADHD. One reason for that is that current symptoms are not enough to diagnose ADHD. Even tests that directly measure attention may show that a patient has difficulty focusing, but they do not diagnose ADHD. Individuals may have problems with focus for various reasons, and attention tests do not indicate the cause of the symptoms, only that the symptoms exist.
The minimum requirements for a psychologist to render a diagnosis of ADHD include:
1. Conducting a detailed clinical interview with the patient.
2. Administering symptom rating scales to the patient and at least one other person who knows the patient well (e.g. a parent, best friend, spouse, coworker).
3. Gathering information that documents that the symptoms have been present since age 12 or earlier. This can include interviews with parents, academic records, prior evaluations, or any other information that documents this. A diagnosis of ADHD cannot be made if there is no evidence that the symptoms have been present since at least age 12. This is nearly always the most difficult information for an adult patient to obtain. We are advised not to rely on the patient’s recollection of childhood symptoms, because studies have shown that our memories of our own symptoms as children are usually not accurate! Please remember this important piece of information and consider whether you are able to provide this information.
In many cases, we conduct additional testing when we feel that it is clinically necessary. Additional testing is used to gather additional information or to rule out other potential causes of the symptoms.
Other tests we might use:
-IQ and/or achievement testing to rule out a learning disorder and to assess cognitive strengths and weaknesses.
-Tests of attention and other aspects of executive functioning. Again, however, even tests that directly measure attention are not sufficient by themselves to diagnose ADHD.
-Clinical self-report tests to examine for other mental health problems that may be causing or contributing to the symptoms, such as anxiety or a depressive disorder.