Q:

The teacher says that my daughter in third grade definitely has ADHD because she is awfully restless. How can I make sure my kid has ADHD? -- Puzzled Parent

A:

To find out the answer to your question if your daughter has ADHD, you should start with a routine visit to your daughter's primary-care physician. Tell the doctor about the observations the teacher had about your daughter, and tell him or her that you would like to have her evaluated for ADHD. Many primary-care doctors are too busy to do the total testing and may refer you to an ADHD expert because testing for ADHD takes several hours and also a large amount of time to analyze the test.

If your doctor does not give you a referral and you still want testing, you should seek out a referral from a school psychologist or guidance counselor, a nearby medical school or your insurer.

The test will take several hours. The evaluator will talk to you and your child, and get feedback through checklists and written information from the teacher and other adults who spend significant time with your daughter. You may be given a packet of forms to fill out and bring back. Here are areas that will be used in helping to make the diagnosis for your daughter:

  • -Social history: a typical day in your daughter's life.
  • -Medical history: any medical concerns that your daughter might have.
  • -Family history: ADHD runs in families.
  • -Strengths and weaknesses: what activities can the child focus on and not focus on?
  • -Education: how your daughter is doing academically.

By the time the clinical interview is over, most experts who diagnose and treat people with ADHD will have a good idea of whether your daughter has ADHD.