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The diagnosis of ADHD

The diagnosis of ADHD requires that:

  • it is performed by a professional expert in child development (neurologist or psychiatrist)
  • there is sufficient time to evaluate the child and gather information about the family, children and ideally the school.

A doctor is always necessary. Sometimes it is also helpful for a psychologist to test the general intelligence and learning of specific skills. There is the need for time and full knowledge of other psychiatric disorders in order to rule out other pathologies that may justify the child's problems. This justifies the fact that the ideal professional for the diagnosis of ADHD is a child psychiatrist or a pediatric neurologist.

The diagnosis is not based on any technical evidence; ADHD is not seen in an x-ray, a CAT scan, an ultra sound, or any other physical evidence. Diagnosis is reached based on a medical and psychiatric interview, including a complete clinical history. Complementary tests are done on children who are suspected to have ADHD in order to rule out other problems, which may be physical or mental.

Scales or questionnaires are not helpful for reaching a diagnosis. They are used to investigate the presence of ADHD (by the pediatrician or school, for example). Then a complete diagnosis should be made. Scales are also used to assess the severity or intensity of the problem and see how it evolves over time.

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