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Skipper L Harvey, PsyD
October 5, 2013

Does My Child Have ADHD?

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorders in children and adolescents. Numerous studies show that the number of children being diagnosed with ADHD is on the rise. Symptoms of this disorder can cause extreme distress for suffering children and the adults who interact with them in home, school, and other environments.

Following are the three subtypes of ADHD according to the American Psychiatric’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) : Predominately Inattentive Type, Predominately Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, and Combined Type (symptom criteria is met for both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive type).

Among other diagnostic criteria that must be met for your child to receive a diagnosis of ADHD are symptom presentation prior to age twelve and symptoms must be present in two separate environments (e.g., home and school). It is important that your physician asks if symptoms are present in more than one setting because a child who only displays symptoms at school may be suffering from a learning disability. Or, if symptoms are only present at home they may be more the result of ineffective parenting strategies rather than a mental disorder.

What Are The Symptoms Of ADHD According To The DSM-5?

Inattentive Symptoms

Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities (e.g., overlooks or misses details, work is inaccurate).

Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities (e.g., has difficulty remaining focused during lectures, conversations, or lengthy reading).

Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly (e.g., mind seems elsewhere, even in the absence of any obvious distraction).

Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., starts tasks but quickly loses focus and is easily sidetracked).

Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities (e.g., difficulty managing sequential tasks; difficulty keeping materials and belongings in order; messy, disorganized work; has poor time management; fails to meet deadlines).

Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (e.g., schoolwork or homework; for older adolescents and adults, preparing reports, completing forms, reviewing lengthy papers).

Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).

Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli (for older adolescents and adults, may include unrelated thoughts).

Is often forgetful in daily activities (e.g., doing chores, running errands; for older adolescents and adults, returning calls, paying bills, keeping appointments).

Hyperactive-Impuslive Symptoms

Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet or squirms in seat.

Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected (e.g., leaves his or her place in the classroom, in the office or other workplace, or in other situations that require remaining in place).

Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is inappropriate. (Note: In adolescents or adults, may be limited to feeling restless.)

Often unable to play or engage in leisure activities quietly.

Is often “on the go,” acting as if “driven by a motor” (e.g., is unable to be or uncomfortable being still for extended time, as in restaurants, meetings; may be experienced by others as being restless or difficult to keep up with).

Often talks excessively.

Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed (e.g., completes people’s sentences; cannot wait for turn in conversation).

Often has difficulty waiting his or her turn (e.g., while waiting in line).

Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations, games, or activities; may start using other people’s things without asking or receiving permission; for adolescents and adults, may intrude into or take over what others are doing).

What Should An ADHD Evaluation Include?

A thorough ADHD evaluation should include the following:

Physical examination to rule out a medical condition as the cause of symptoms

An interview with child, parent(s), and teacher(s) to get a detailed patient history and to get a thorough history of behavior and environment

A psychoeducational assessment that includes an intelligence test, an achievement test, and behavior rating scales or questionnaires. A school or home observation may also be included in the assessment in addition to additional measures based on test data and child’s history.

Questions To Ask Before Your Child Is Evaluated For ADHD

What tests/measures does the professional you chose use to make an ADHD diagnosis? Are they following guidelines put in place by the American Academy of Pediatrics? What experience does the professional have in the area of ADHD?

How is information about symptoms gathered in more than one setting? Does the professional use rating scales, questionnaires, consultation?

What is the duration of the total assessment and individual sessions? Is the professional willing to evaluate your child in the morning before fatigue or other stressors from the day can impact test results?

Does the professional have experience evaluating children in your child’s age range?

Will the evaluator provide you with a detailed report with recommendations after the assessment? How long will it take to receive results?

Additional Information


About Dr. Skipper
Dr. Skipper is a Florida Licensed Clinical Psychologist who works extensively with children, adolescents, and families to provide therapy and psychoeducational assessment services.

She received her doctorate degree from the Florida School of Professional Psychology.  Dr. Skipper has worked with children, adolescents, and families in a variety of settings which include mental health clinics, residential settings, drug treatment facilities, and schools.

Through the integration of a variety of empirically-based treatment approaches, Dr. Skipper assists her clients by providing new skills and empowering strategies to build distress tolerance, enhance awareness and communication, facilitate insight, and challenge maladaptive relationship and thinking patterns. She employs an active therapeutic stance to facilitate long-lasting, positive change. 

Dr. Skipper’s background also includes a B.A. in Elementary Education with 11 years of experience in primary education. 


Disclaimer: The above information is not intended to provide professional advice or diagnostic service. If you have any concerns about Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or other health issues, please consult a qualified health care professional in your community.