Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

child speaking to counselor

What is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may be one of the most misunderstood conditions of childhood.  Most people think that they understand ADHD, but their conceptualization of ADHD is based on media reports and not necessarily the science.


ADHD might be better understood if the name itself didn't so poorly reflect the disorder.  Attention-deficit is misleading.  People with ADHD have times when they can focus, times when they hyper focus, and times when they struggle to focus.  Attention regulation disorder may be a more accurate name.

Name Changes

In 2015, the American Psychological Association did away with the diagnosis of Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD).  Now all ADHD types fall under the umbrella of ADHD.  They include: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder-Primarily Inattentive; Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder-Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive; and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder-Combined presentation.  


Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder-Primarily Inattentive is the new name for ADD.

ADHD-primarily Inattentive

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder-Primarily Inattentive Disorder is often challenging to get diagnosed.  Many people have a picture of ADHD as boys who are disruptive and "curtain climbers."  ADHD-Inattentive type (ADHD-IN) is diagnosed when children do not have hyperactive or impulsive symptoms, and instead move in and out of attention.  Teacher are often unaware of the attention struggles of these children and because they are not cause behavioral problems, these children are often not referred for evaluation.

ADHD-Combine Presentation

ADHD-Combined presentation is diagnosed when people have more than typical symptoms of hyperactivity, restlessness, and impulsiveness along with their struggles with inattention.  

Assessment

Assessment choices vary for ADHD.  Occasionally pediatricians who specialize in ADHD will diagnose this disorder.  More often, pediatricians refer to specialists in this field


We offer comprehensive assessment for all types of ADHD.  One of our specialty is looking at Inattentive type, as it shares genetic comorbidity with dyslexia.  


Our Assessment include:

  • Full diagnostic interview of both parents
  • Cognitive testing
  • ADHD specific questionnaires for parents, teachers, and older students
  • Written report and recommendations


 

FAQs

Why do you want cognitive testing for my child?

  • Cognitive testing, sometimes called IQ assessment, is not done to determine how "smart" people are.  We believe that people are intelligent in many different ways.
  • Instead, cognitive assessments help practitioners determine how different parts of the brain are functioning.  In ADHD, working memory and processing speed are often areas of challenge.  Cognitive assessments measure these areas and help give parents an understanding of their child's strengths and challenges and how these might impact learning.

Do you prescribe?

  • No, only medical doctors can prescribe.  Sometimes pediatricians who specialize in ADHD will prescribe, once they have a diagnosis.  If not, we or your pediatrician can refer you to someone who specializes in ADHD medical management.

If my child takes medications, are they more likely to become addicted to drugs later?

  • No, actually the opposite has been shown to be true.  People who are not adequately treated for their ADHD will "self-medicate".  This can include marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamine.   

My child can focus on their legos (art/music/TV/video games, etc) for hours.  Therefore they do not have ADHD, right?

  • Children with ADHD have troubles *regulating* their attention.  They may alternate between being hyper-focused on activities they love or under focused on activities that are "boring" or challenging.  While that can be true of most of us, the key is to look at when it is a challenge more than typical peers.  
  • Activities that children with ADHD find interesting, actually help stimulate the neurotransmitters that are usually dysregulated.  In a sense, it is "self-medicating", so focus lasts longer.  
  • It is important to remember that people with ADHD fluctuate between normal focus, hyper focusing, and under focusing many times a day and even in an hour.  This disorder would be more accurately called Attention Regulation Disorder.