Understanding ADHD Assessments for Children: What Parents Need to Know

Purpose and Process of an ADHD Assessment

The first step in the ADHD assessment process is understanding why the assessment is being conducted. ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a neurodevelopmental condition that can significantly impact a child’s life. Identifying ADHD early can lead to timely interventions that help your child thrive and understand their unique mind. 

Professionals Involved:

Various specialists may be involved in the assessment, each of which are experts in identifying ADHD in children and young people, including:

  • Clinical psychologist
  • Consultant paediatrician
  • Consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist

How the Assessment Works:

To support your child effectively, it's essential to fully understand their neurodevelopmental profile and needs. Our specialist team will conduct a comprehensive, expert assessment to determine whether your child has ADHD.

Screening

If you think that your child may have ADHD, our free screening process can provide clarity and insight. Conducted by our psychology team and led by a clinical psychologist consultant, this screening will help identify potential signs of ADHD. If the results suggest ADHD, we'll recommend a diagnostic assessment for a definitive answer.

Information Gathering - School/pre-school report

We request that your child's school complete a report form and an online screening questionnaire to help us understand their behaviour in different social settings. This information aids our clinical team in their assessment and clarifies your child's strengths and needs. If your child is home-schooled, there's no need to worry. This won't affect the assessment; instead, we'll ask for a report from another suitable professional or someone who knows your child well outside of the home.

Diagnostic Assessment

The diagnostic assessment is conducted by an expert in identifying ADHD in children and young people. We will triage your referral to assign the most appropriate professional. During the assessment, the clinician will ask you and your child about their strengths, needs, likes, dislikes, and developmental milestones. They will also observe your child's mannerisms and behaviours discreetly. Combining information from the screening, questionnaires, and clinical interview, the expert will assess this against the DSM-5 criteria to determine if a diagnosis is appropriate. The outcome, along with recommendations for further support or treatment, will be presented to you immediately after the assessment.

Diagnostic Report

Our team will work closely to produce a comprehensive report outlining the assessment results. The report will be easy to understand and include recommendations for further support and adjustments at home and school. As our assessments fully comply with NICE guidelines, you can have peace of mind knowing that both the NHS and education systems accept our diagnostic reports and outcomes.

Support

If the assessment indicates that your child has ADHD, we will discuss all relevant support options with you. This will include a range of possibilities, such as medical, behavioural, and psychological interventions. We'll help you choose the best options for your child. If you opt for medication, a specialist prescriber will assess your child's suitability, perform routine tests, and, if appropriate, initiate a treatment plan. After the initial prescription, your child will need regular reviews to monitor the medication's effectiveness and any side effects. Once a stable dose is achieved and the treatment is working well, we will refer you to your local NHS ADHD service or GP for ongoing management of prescriptions and routine monitoring.

Criteria Assessed:

Children can share some traits of ADHD; however, it’s important to remember that each brain is unique, so a formal diagnosis is the best way to establish your child's needs.

Some of the more common traits your child may be exhibiting include;

  • Challenging behaviour
  • Difficulties with friends 
  • Difficulties with school 

You might also notice some strengths associated with ADHD, such as:

  • Ability to focus for very long periods on activities they love
  • Boundless energy
  • Creative thinking

Other things we review:

Attention Span: How well your child can focus and maintain attention on tasks.

Impulsivity: The tendency to act without thinking about the consequences.

Hyperactivity: Levels of excessive movement and difficulty sitting still.

Your Role in Your Child’s Assessment:

Your active involvement is crucial in the assessment process. Open communication with the professionals conducting the assessment ensures that all relevant information is considered and keeps you fully informed about the process and outcomes.

Share detailed observations about your child’s behaviour and development; your insights are invaluable for creating a complete picture of your child’s needs. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about any aspect of the assessment process or the results. Understanding the nuances will help you make informed decisions.

If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, developing an appropriate management plan is a collaborative effort. Work closely with the professionals to create a plan that includes interventions and support your child’s specific needs.

Potential Outcomes and Next Steps

Being prepared for the various outcomes of the assessment can help you plan the next steps effectively.

Possible Outcomes:

  • Diagnosis of ADHD: If the assessment confirms ADHD, you can explore various support options
  • Ruling Out ADHD: If ADHD is ruled out, the assessment might suggest other underlying issues that need attention.
  • Additional Concerns: Sometimes, the assessment may reveal other conditions or factors contributing to your child’s unique mind. 

The ADHD assessment process can be a pivotal step in understanding and supporting your child. 

By understanding the purpose and process, maintaining open communication with experts, and being prepared for the outcomes, you can navigate this journey to understanding your child’s unique mind with confidence. Remember, early identification and intervention are key to helping your child reach their full potential. Your active participation and informed decision-making are the cornerstones of your child’s success.

Child ADHD Assessment

Sonet Strijdom
Louise Simpson
Dr Ana Mendes
Louis Conradie
Dr Daniel William Simmonds
Dr Oluwafemi Ogunbona

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We're with you at every step

Everyone’s mind is unique. Many of us are neurodiverse. And while the neurological differences that make us individuals can bring challenges, we believe that with understanding, empathy and expert support, everyone can thrive.

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