CONTACT DR. CINDY
Phone: (203) 913-6105
Evaluation of ADD/ADHD
What is ADD/ADHD?
ADD/ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that can cause impulsive and hyperactive behaviors as well as difficulties in sustaining attention. Many children also present with emotional dysregulation issues. ADD/ADHD is increasingly recognized as a developmental impairment of executive functions of the brain including difficulties with organization, time management, and planning. Studies have shown that for many people, ADD/ADHD continues into adulthood although symptoms may change (e.g., hyperactivity to restlessness). There is currently no individual conclusive test available today to assess this very common childhood condition. Doctors usually can obtain a clearer picture of the problem after obtaining both a thorough physical exam to evaluate the child’s health and a developmental history to ascertain certain issues such as attention, behaviors, moods, and sleeping and eating habits. However, certain symptoms need to be identified and evaluated before a reliable diagnosis can be provided and a treatment plan is put into place.
What criteria are used to establish a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD?
To assess for a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD or other mental or behavioral health disorders, doctors utilize a handbook called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) published by the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM-V contains descriptions, symptom lists, and criteria for each mental and behavioral health disorder. To receive a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD, the child needs to demonstrate 6 symptoms of inattention and/or 6 symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity for a 6-month period that are inconsistent with their developmental level. In addition, the symptoms must be: present in multiple environments (e.g., school, home), interfere with social, academic or occupational functioning, and several symptoms must occur before the age of 12. For older adolescents and adults (age 17 and older), 5 or more symptoms are required.
What does ADD/ADHD testing consist of?
My practice specializes in testing for ADD/ADHD. Many children, adolescents, and adults suffer from ADD/ADHD but are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Psychological testing can help discern ADD/ADHD from other issues such as a processing speed issue or an anxiety disorder. Depending upon the presenting problem, age, and other issues, a battery of different psychological and neuropsychological tests will be administered. The testing will assess different domains including cognitive abilities, executive functioning, processing speed, and attention skills and will also include teacher/parent/self-rating scales. The group of tests can range from a small focused testing set to advise treatment to an expanded psychoeducational and/or socio-emotional assessment that can highlight potential learning disabilities or mood disorders.
Treatment of ADD/ADHD
What are the treatment recommendations for ADD/ADHD?
Scientific research studies have shown that a combination of medical treatment and other supportive behavioral treatments result in the best possible outcomes for children with ADD/ADHD. This multidisciplinary approach can ameliorate the symptoms of ADD/ADHD and improve your child’s ability to self-regulate, listen and comply with rules, and develop better relationships with other children and with you, their parents. I will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan for your child that will likely contain some of the following elements:
- Parent and child education about diagnosis and treatment
- Behavior management techniques:
- Parent support & Parent management training (e.g., PCIT)
- Child therapy
- Social skills training
- School accommodations, programming, and support
- Executive function coaching
I offer many of the services listed above and can provide referrals (e.g., psychiatrists for medication management) and coordinate services so that your child receives the best support plan possible.