AD/HD is a difficult disorder to diagnose because it is often accompanied by learning, behavioral and/or emotional disorders called co-morbidities. In order to obtain a complete and comprehensive diagnosis, a multilevel analysis is needed. A full assessment demands participation from teachers, clinicians, the patient and his/her parents.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

The latest revision of the DSM, the DSM IV, contains the most current list of criteria that medical professionals use to clinically diagnose AD/HD. The DSM IV also illustrates how to differentiate between ADD and ADHD according to the particular patient’s symptoms.

Tests used to diagnose AD/HD

It is important to note that there is no single test which can definitively tell you that you have AD/HD. Instead, extensive testing and a complete evaluation of your lifestyle and behavior are required for a comprehensive diagnosis. There are a multitude of tests which are designed to assess the impact that AD/HD has on your life and to determine certain co-morbidities. Your lifestyle and behavior tendencies will be assessed through a description of your abilities, achievements, executive control (control over the frontal lobe of the brain), emotional tendencies and motor, memory, auditory, attention and social skills. A medical professional will determine if your symptoms are severe enough to warrant a diagnosis of AD/HD and, if they are, an individualized program will be formulated which takes advantage of your strengths and weaknesses so that you can learn to cope with having AD/HD in your own unique way.

Rating scales

Unlike tests, rating scales are usually not performed by medical professionals but rather by parents and teachers and the patient him/herself. The medical professional only sees the patient in his/her office, which is not an accurate depiction of their everyday behavior. Rating scales compare the AD/HD patient with other people in his/her age group.

What Tests and Rating Scales are used for each Area of Assessment?

Behavior Observations

  • Conners Rating scale
  • ACTeRS
  • Behavioral Assessment System for Children (BASC)
  • ADHD Test (ADHDT)

Psychological/Neuropsychological Assessment

There are twelve psychological/neuropsychological areas that should be assessed so that the patient’s strengths and weaknesses can be documented. These twelve components are attention, ability, achievement, executive function, visual motor skills, motor skills, memory, self-concept/self-esteem, social skills, visual spatial skills, language skills and behavioral-emotional assessment.

  1. Assessing Attention

    • Conners' Rating Scales
  2. Assessing Ability

    This assessment provides a description of the patient’s ability for both verbal and non-verbal communication as well as a full-scale IQ score.

    • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
    • Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence
    • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children III (WISC III)
    • Differential Ability Scale
    • Woodcock-Johnson III
    • Raven's Progressive Matrices
  3. Assessing Achievement

    This is an assessment of basic reading skills, reading comprehension, math reasoning, numerical operation, spelling, listening comprehension and oral expression and written expression.

    • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT)
    • Woodcock-Johnson III Achievement Test
  4. Assessing Executive Function

    The frontal lobe is the cognitive system which allows a person to easily switch from task to task so the following tests evaluate the patient’s ability to adapt to changes in their environment.

    • Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive FunctionTM
    • Wisconsin Card Sorting TestTM
    • NEPSY®
    • Rey Complex Figure Test and Recognition Trial
  5. Assessing Visual Motor Skills

    Visual motor skills give us the ability to relate visual stimuli to physical response, so that we can use our vision to guide our pen while writing for example.

    • Bender Gestalt Test
  6. Assessing Motor Skills

    • Beery Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration (VMI)
  7. Assessing Memory

    • Children’s Memory Scale
    • Wechsler Memory Scale®-III
    • Rey Complex Figure Test and Recognition Trial
  8. Assessing Self-Concept and Self-Esteem

    • Piers-Harris
  9. Assessing Social Skills

    • Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF®) Fifth Edition
    • Goodenough-Harris Drawing Test
  10. Assessment of Visual-Spatial Skills

    • Visual-spatial skills give us the ability to see the world around us in 3 dimensions.
    • Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test
  11. Assessing Language Skills

    • Test for Auditory Comprehension of Language-Third Edition
    • Test of Language Competence-Expanded Edition (TLC-Expanded)
    • Test of Language Development-Intermediate, Third Edition (TOLD-I:3)
    • California Verbal Learning Test-II
  12. Behavioral/Emotional Assessment

    • Rorschach®: A Comprehensive System, The
    • Beck Depression Inventory®-II

Where would you go to get a diagnosis?

To be properly diagnosed with AD/HD, you need to have a psychological report prepared by a licensed psychological examiner. This examination should include several of the tests and rating scales described above so that the examiner can evaluate the results of the tests to determine if your AD/HD symptoms are severe enough to impact your learning. If you come to WPI without a diagnosis or with an outdated psychological report, you will be referred to a licensed doctor in the area. To find out how to get accommodations at WPI, see the "How to get accommodations at WPI" section of this web page.

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