By Dr. Irma Campos, Licensed Psychologist
At Interface Consulting and Psychological Services, we are dedicated to providing evidence-based ADHD testing in Tampa, Florida for all ages. For some children, adults, or teens, ADHD is diagnosed after a brief visit with a physician, such as a primary care physician. As I have mentioned in other posts, diagnosing certain psychological conditions is often a complex process that should be informed by multiple pieces of concrete evidence from various sources (e.g., teachers, parents, self). The evidence should establish a pattern of behaviors and impairments in functioning that support the diagnosis with greater certainty than simply a clinical interview or observation. All forms of ADHD, including ADHD: Predominantly Inattentive Presentation, ADHD: Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation, and ADHD: Combined Presentation should ideally be diagnosed following psychoeducational or psychological testing incorporating standardized psychological assessments. I recommend this especially if psychotropic medications (e,.g., stimulants such as Adderall) are being considered as part of the treatment plan. Treatment success is dependent on an effective diagnosis and treatment plan, inclusive of appropriate psychotropic medications.
ADHD testing would typically include any psychological assessments a psychologist would consider beneficial in order to confirm and disconfirm the diagnosis. For example, currently in the psychological field, neuropsychological measures of complex attention and hyperactivity-impulsivity are considered beneficial in confirming or disconfirming ADHD. Additionally, it may be beneficial to also assess general cognitive functioning through IQ assessments, such as the WISC-V or WAIS-IV. Ultimately, a psychologist will determine and recommend assessments believed to be helpful in the ADHD diagnostic process.
One important consideration in terms of additional assessments is that there are higher levels of comorbidity (or coexistence) among ADHD and certain mental disorders. For example, ADHD is highly comorbid with Anxiety Disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder. This is hypothesized to be a result of shared etiology (e.g., specific structural deficits in the brain, neurochemical imbalances in the brain) among these disorders as well as the impact ADHD can have on a person’s quality of life. See this link to learn more about this connection: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315303#Treating%20both%20anxiety%20and%20ADHD So, a psychologist may include measures such as symptom inventories or behavior rating scales completed by teachers and parents to assess for comorbid disorders.
As you prepare to undergo or have your child/adolescent undergo ADHD testing, it is helpful to also prepare for any results or recommendations you may receive. Sometimes the results can be difficult for a person to receive and accept. Recommendations may feel overwhelming to implement and follow through with, particularly if there are multiple recommendations related to treatment and academic accommodations. It is completely normative to feel anxiety, fear, or worry in this process. But seeking your own appropriate forms of support and effective coping mechanisms (e.g., social support from a close family member) can help you manage the difficult emotions that emerge. Ultimately, it is very important to contend with the reality of the diagnosis and seek the recommendations provided to you. If you have questions about how to follow through with the recommendations, follow up with the testing psychologist on ways to facilitate the process. Following through on recommendations can make a world of difference in terms of increasing academic/workplace, interpersonal, and adaptive functioning. Following through on recommendations can also lead to reducing the progression or intensification of how a disorder impacts a person’s overall well-being too.
Leonard, J. (2017). What is the link between anxiety and ADHD? MedicalNewsToday. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315303#Treating%20both%20anxiety%20and%20ADHD