This is a query that I’ve received quite frequently – in short, the answer is Yes of course!

All assessments undertaken at Psychiatry UK comply with the NICE guidelines on the assessment of ADHD in Children & Adolescents (ref NICE guideline NG87 2018), which state an assessment/diagnosis is based upon:

  • A full clinical and psychosocial assessment of the individual, which should include discussion about behaviour and symptoms in the different domains and settings of the individual’s everyday life and
  • A full developmental and psychiatric history and
  • Observer reports and assessment of the individual’s mental state.

In order to fulfil the criteria of a diagnosis of ADHD the following need to be met (ref American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

People with ADHD show a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development:

  • Inattention: Six or more symptoms of inattention for children up to age 16, or five or more for adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level:
    • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.
    • Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
    • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
    • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
    • Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
    • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
    • Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
    • Is often easily distracted.
    • Is often forgetful in daily activities.
  • Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: Six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity for children up to age 16, or five or more for adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the person’s developmental level:
    • Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
    • Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
    • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).
    • Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
    • Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
    • Often talks excessively.
    • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
    • Often has trouble waiting his/her turn.
    • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games).

In addition, the following conditions must be met:

  • Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present before age 12 years.
  • Several symptoms are present in two or more setting, (e.g., at home, school or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities).
  • There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.
  • The symptoms do not happen only during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder. The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder (e.g. Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).

When children are within a mainstream education setting, our assessment process involves a variety of screening questionnaires sent to the parents, school teachers, and dependent on the child’s age, to the child themselves. These questionnaires, alongside an appointment with a Consultant in Child & adolescent psychiatry forms the basis of an ADHD assessment.

Although it is slightly trickier to gather the evidence when a child isn’t on role at mainstream school, it certainly doesn’t (and shouldn’t) exclude them for accessing an assessment for possible ADHD. Although each child’s circumstances are unique, in general I recommend the following evidence can be collated to inform an assessment:

  • End of year school reports form reception up until the child left school and
  • Any reports from tutors engaged in the online provision of education, if the child is enrolled in a programme and
  • Any reports from extra curricular activities the child may have previously, or is currently, been involved in and
  • A Qb test could be sought. This is a diagnostic screening tool that can offer an independent and objective assessment of a child’s ability to concentrate, their level of impulsivity and their movement. It should only be used in conjunction with a complete ADHD assessment, not in isolation. Many companies offer these tests across the country.

Using as much of the collated evidence, a meeting with one of our Consultant Psychiatrists can then be arranged.

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For further information on children’s mental health struggles, visit our blog page here