ADHD is diagnosed through assessment and review, not through blood tests or scans.
Once a referral has been accepted, an assessment process takes places. There are several stages to the assessment process:
The team gathers information from parents, carers, schools and any other key professionals using standardised questionnaires. Information in the questionnaires is then assessed and the questionnaires scored to determine if they reach the clinical threshold for ADHD. Parents can also provide any additional useful information such as school reports as supporting evidence.
The questionnaires can help identify specific symptoms of ADHD that may not otherwise emerge and reveal how well a person functions at school, home, or work.
Ob test screening
You may receive an appointment to bring your child for a Qb test. The Qb test is a diagnostic screening tool which provides objective information to aid the assessment of ADD/ADHD and help determine the best type of support for the child.
The Qb test provides a valuable baseline measurement that can help to evaluate any future changes in the child’s activity, attention and impulsivity before further assessments to consider if they may have a Neurodevelopmental condition.
Not all children going through assessment will be asked to have a QB test however.
Diagnostic and management plan
Following the Qb test screening, an appointment will be made for a consultation with Community Consultant Paediatricians or ADHD Advanced Clinical Practitioner and a Non-Medical Prescriber. The appointment usually lasts about an hour and 15 minutes and collates all of the information gathered through the questionnaires and previous assessments. Time is spent carefully going through the child’s history with them and their parents and/or carers.
Information gathered is assessed and an appropriate management plan is discussed.
If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, treatment options will also be discussed.
At this appointment, parents and/or carers have the chance to ask any questions they might have and you will also be signposted to sources of advice, guidance and support including Parent Information Sessions. Lots of helpful resources are available on this webpage including leaflets about ADHD and behaviour management.
Please note that not all children who are assessed will receive a diagnosis of ADHD. However, a child or young person does not need a medical diagnosis in order to get support in education. Please see the ‘further support’ section for details of local support for children with neurodevelopmental needs.
With parental consent (and agreement from the young patient), the service can provide a range of treatment interventions including stimulant and non-stimulant medications. Working with parents and the child’s GP, the medications are regularly monitored and reviewed. While medications are not a cure for ADHD, they have been proven to help people with the condition, improving their ability to concentrate, control their impulses and feel calmer.
Medication isn’t always an option for everyone and, understandably, some people prefer to try other options in the first instance. What would be most suited to the young person’s needs will be discussed with the ADHD Clinical Nurse or Consultant Community Paediatricians, however non-medication interventions can include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), psychoeducation, parental training and education programmes and social skills training. You will also find lots of guidance and advice on coping strategies, improving sleep and managing emotions on this web page.
These resources can also support for families while they wait for an appointment.