Testing Your Teen for ADHD

Is your child struggling to focus?

The most prevalent behavioral disorder in teens, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects almost 10 percent of kids in the United States. ADHD symptoms include: trouble paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Parents and teachers may notice that a teen is having trouble concentrating in class and having a difficult time completing tasks – but does this mean that a teen has ADHD?

ADHD in teenagers can be particularly difficult, because unlike children and adults, teens deal with intense social, hormonal, and life changes during this time in their lives. As no singular evaluation exists, testing for ADHD in teenagers can be a challenge for health care professionals.

Mental Evaluation/Interviews
According to the Mayo Clinic, a doctor may conduct a series of questionnaires and interviews with a teen patient, as well as with the teen’s parents, teachers, coaches, and other advisors. The doctor may ask about the teen’s ability to pay attention, to organize homework, his or her listening abilities, and behavior at home, school, and work. It is important to understand the teen’s behavior in his or her daily life because the signs of ADHD are often not apparent within the doctor’s office. As parents, the best way to help the doctor provide an accurate diagnosis is to gather information and share it at the next appointment.

Physical Examination
In addition to a mental evaluation and discussion with parents and teachers, a doctor may do a physical examination which can include testing hearing, brain scans, and blood tests for lead. This physical examination will help the doctor get a better understanding of the teen’s overall well-being; which can lead to an accurate diagnosis.

Mayo Clinic
American Psychiatric Association

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest