Do you suspect that your child has a concentration problem?
Perhaps a teacher has mentioned that she thinks your child might have some challenges surrounding their ability to concentrate and pay attention?
Teachers are often the first ones to recognize or suspect ADHD in children. This is because ADHD symptoms typically affect school performance or disrupt the rest of the class. Since teachers work with many different children, they also come to know how students typically behave in the classroom where concentration and self-control are required. This means that, they may speak to the parents about their concerns when they notice something outside the norm.
But teachers are not allowed to diagnose ADHD. They can tell you what they observe in the classroom, but you will need to get a professional (medical doctor, pediatrician, psychiatrist, educational psychologist) involved to evaluate your child.
ADHD has three core symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. All three of these core symptoms present in different ways throughout the lifespan of a person.
Inattention is the difficulty associated with paying attention and listening when spoken to. Individuals with inattention may also be easily distracted and forgetful in daily activities as well as not being able to follow through with instructions or finishing schoolwork.
Hyperactivity is most often seen in general fidgety behavior – not being able to sit still or sit in one place for an extended period of time. This might also present as rambunctious behavior in inappropriate situations. Hyperactive individuals have trouble sitting quietly or entertaining themselves, and always seem to be ‘on the go’ or often talk excessively. A kind of ‘inner restlessness’ might also be indicative of hyperactivity, with an inability to relax peacefully.
Impulsive behaviors might include blurting out answers before questions are completed, a lack of patience, often interrupting others and intruding on conversations. Impulsiveness can also present as a fierce temper and engagement in risky activities.
There is no single test for ADHD. Instead, the ADHD diagnosis is based on (Subjective) observations of a child's behavior in multiple settings using questionnaires like the Connors Rating Scale. Your medical professional will ask you and your child's teachers to rate their observations of your child's behavior on standardized evaluation or rating scales.
Rating scales are only one component of a comprehensive assessment process, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend that the diagnosis should only be made after a full clinical and psychosocial evaluation, and never on the basis of rating scale data alone.
Recent studies have shown that the integration of a Continuous Performance Test like the FOCUS CPT provide important information in assessing the core variables in ADHD. By integrating the FOCUS CPT as part of the diagnosis a more objective measurement is included during the evaluation process.