How is AD/HD diagnosed?

How is AD/HD diagnosed? 

It is important for parents to seek the expertise of medical professionals if they suspect that their child may have AD/HD as well as be in close contact with their child’s teacher or caregiver.

Those students who are not diagnosed with AD/HD before entering school may be referred for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s (IDEA) nondiscriminatory evaluation because his or her teachers or school psychologists suspect they have AD/HD.

School psychologists typically refer students who are seen as having AD/HD to a variety of professionals, including pediatricians, family doctors, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and neurologists (Turnbull.)  The purpose of these referrals is to receive expert assistance in performing IDEA’s mandatory nondiscriminatory evaluation.

Parents have to agree to this referral for nondiscriminatory evaluation.  If a parent agrees to the evaluation then the following takes place:           

-    Teacher and parent observations are conducted.

-     Screening and Assessment via classroom including work products, achievement and intelligence tests, a medical screening and vision and hearing screenings.

-    The teacher will also work with his/her building support team to make an action plan; any suggestions from outside professionals will be taken into account as well.

-     Strategies are put into place.  However, if the aforementioned is not successful then the following forms of assessment may occur:

  1.     Psychological Evaluation: Psychiatrist or psychologist determines that the student meets DSM-IV criteria for AD/HD.

2.     Individualized Assessment tests

3.     Individualized Achievement tests

4.     Behavior rating scales

5.     Further teacher observation

6.     Curriculum-based assessment 

The assessments would determine that a student has AD/HD and would receive special education services.  An individualized education plan (IEP) would then be written for the student based on his/her needs and the input of his/her educational team.