We use generally the criteria as set forth in the DSM-IV which is our ” Bible” for psychiatric diagnoses. In addition to this the American Academy of Pediatrics has also added in a few additional criteria for ADHD to consider when looking at medication therapy. The AAP’s additional criteria essentially asks that we use explicit criteria from DSM-IV, second that we obtain information about the child in more than one setting, and third that we give consideration to the possibility of comorbid disorders as OCD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Here are the DSM criteria…
IA. Six or more of the following signs of inattention have been present for at least 6 months to a point that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level:
1. Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
2. Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities.
3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
4. Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
5. Often has trouble organizing activities.
6. Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
7. Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (such as toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
8. Is often easily distracted.
9. Often forgetful in daily activities.
IB. Six or more of the following signs of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level:
1. Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
2. Often gets up from seat when remaining in seat is expected.
3. Often runs about or climbs when and where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may feel very restless).
4. Often has trouble playing or enjoying leisure activities quietly.
5. Is often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”.
6. Often talks excessively.
1. Often blurts out answers before questions have been finished.
2. Often has trouble waiting one’s turn.
3. Often interrupts or intrudes on others (example: butts into conversations or games).
II. Some signs that cause impairment were present before age 7 years.
III. Some impairment from the signs is present in two or more settings (such as at school/work and at home).
IV. There must be clear evidence of significant impairment in social, school, or work functioning.
V. The signs do not happen only during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorder. The signs are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (such as Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).
I like to evaluate the child over the course of several visits. It is important to take a careful dietary history in the process of ADHD evaluation. Many processed cereals and convenience foods are loaded with corn syrup. A high sugar diet may play a role in inattentiveness and hyperactivity in many children. Another important factor is sleep. A child who is not getting enough sleep may present with hyperactivity. A careful physical exam and history are necessary to rule out sleep apnea, which may also present with hyperactivity and inattention. Some children will really improve with a trial of diet and sleep hygiene.
So How Do You Make a Diagnosis of ADHD?
by Natalie Hodge MD FAAP on September 27th, 2011
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