Diagnosis of Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder
Requires Accurate Assessment

By Roxanna Rahban gevirtz%20banner.jpgDoes your child seem to ignore you,
constantly lose things, and have trouble sitting still, completing
homework, or following through on chores? Is he or she
temperamental, fidgety, or socially immature? Or are you a
daydreamer, forgetful, and disorganized? There are an increasing
number of individuals who share the same experience every day and
wonder how to make sense of this condition. Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is
one of the most commonly diagnosed childhood behavioral disorders,
which frequently continues into adolescence, and often persists
into adulthood. For all who struggle with this disorder, ADHD leads
to behavioral, cognitive, and emotional difficulties that can
reduce the quality of relationships, self-esteem, occupational
functioning, and personal achievement. Despite often having
strong abilities and talents, such individuals are also
often inefficient at performing long tasks and thus tend to
experience much frustration. Without an awareness of this
condition, it’s easy to end up labeled “lazy” and “careless” and
one can suffer the seeds of shame and embarrassment. An initial
step toward improving the quality of your or your child’s life is
an accurate evaluation and diagnosis. Before jumping to the
conclusion that you or your child have ADHD, it is important to be
aware that there are other conditions that resemble ADHD, such as
anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, medical conditions, and
the effects of medications. Unfortunately, there is no single or
simple test that can diagnose ADHD, such as a blood test or brain
scan. In order to assess fully for the occurrence of all mediating
factors, a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation should be
performed. A thorough evaluation involves a clinical interview and
developmental history, and an examination of educational and
academic achievement, intellectual functioning, learning and
memory, fine and gross motor coordination, and social-emotional
functioning. A complete physical exam is also strongly recommended
in order to rule out any medical problems. A neuropsychological
evaluation for ADHD often includes feedback from a clinician about
the assessment results, recommendations, and resources related to
available treatment and support. Numerous interventions for ADHD
have been proposed both in the research literature and in common
practice. The two treatment approaches for children are stimulant
or non-stimulant medications, parent education, and training on
child behavior management. Effective psychosocial interventions for
children include cognitive-behavioral therapy and classroom and
home behavioral plans, such as rewards systems and strengthening
frustration tolerance. Alternative treatments also include EEG
biofeedback and changes in nutrition or diet, yet these treatments
have comparatively received less empirical support and popularity.
For adults, treatment has traditionally been stimulant or
non-stimulant medication, individual psychotherapy, mindfulness
meditation classes, school accommodations, and most recently,
individual ADHD coaching. Multi-modal interventions have shown to
result in the most beneficial outcomes. psych%20assessment%20center.jpg Although a neuropsychological
examination is often a lengthy and expensive process, there are
affordable professionals who are capable of assessing you or your child. The Psychology Assessment Center at UCSB conducts
affordable, comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations of ADHD,
learning disabilities, psychological problems, and other cognitive
problems in individuals aged 5 to 65. Assessments are conducted by
doctoral student clinicians in the Department of Counseling,
Clinical, and School Psychology at UCSB under close supervision of
a licensed clinical psychologist. For more information about the
Psychology Assessment Center and the services provided, please call
(805) 893-5141, email pac@education.ucsb.edu, or view
the website www.education.ucsb.edu/pac.

Roxanna Rahban is a Ph.D. candidate in the
Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology at UCSB’s
The Gevirtz School.


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