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How is ADHD Diagnosed? Philadelphia ADHD Testing & Treatment


ADHD evaluations from top experts providing individualized testing in Philadelphia. We uncover ADHD in women, girls and adults to inform proper treatment.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental condition that impairs focus, impulse control, organization, and other executive functions. If you suspect ADHD in yourself or a child, getting properly diagnosed is the critical first step before pursuing treatment and learning effective management strategies.

But how exactly is ADHD diagnosed by professionals? What steps does the evaluation process entail? Read on for an in-depth look at how ADHD assessments are conducted by specialists to reach an accurate diagnosis.


How is ADHD Diagnosed?


ADHD Diagnostic Criteria


For an individual to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, certain diagnostic criteria must be met in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association. The core symptoms involve ongoing issues with inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that impair functioning.


Inattention symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty paying close attention to details

  • Trouble sustaining focus during tasks or play

  • Not seeming to listen when directly spoken to

  • Struggling to follow through on instructions

  • Disorganization around tasks and activities

  • Avoidance of tasks requiring sustained mental effort

  • Losing things needed for tasks

  • Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli

  • Forgetfulness in daily activities


Hyperactivity symptoms may involve:

  • Fidgeting with hands or feet or squirming in seat

  • Leaving seat when remaining seated is expected

  • Excessive running around or climbing when inappropriate

  • Difficulty playing quietly

  • Always seeming “on the go” as if “driven by a motor”

  • Talking excessively


Impulsivity symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty waiting one’s turn

  • Frequently interrupting others

  • Blurting out answers before questions have been completed

  • Difficulty resisting temptations or delaying gratification

  • Interrupting or intruding on others

  • Making important decisions without consideration of long-term consequences


For a diagnosis, patients must exhibit several of the inattention and/or hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms for at least 6 months to a degree that impairs functioning and does not match developmental level. Some symptoms must have been present prior to age 12, and must occur in more than one setting such as school and home.


Referral for ADHD Testing


The first step in getting assessed for ADHD is usually a referral from a pediatrician, primary care doctor, therapist, school, or loved one who notices ongoing issues with focus, behavior, or development. They may recommend further testing based on:


  • Observer reports of ADHD risk symptoms

  • Signs of academic underachievement or learning difficulties

  • Problems with school or workplace performance

  • Difficulties with social skills or relationships

  • Other concerning mental health symptoms – anxiety, depression, obsessive behaviors

  • Family history of ADHD or related conditions


If you suspect ADHD in yourself or your child, do not hesitate to bring up your concerns directly with your physician as well. They can refer you for a comprehensive ADHD assessment.

Comprehensive ADHD Evaluation


Thorough ADHD testing is then conducted by a specialist such as a neuropsychologist, psychotherapist, or pediatric neurodevelopmental psychologist. Our expert team at Renewing Mindsets provides comprehensive ADHD evaluations at our convenient office locations in the Philadelphia metro area.


Clinical Interviews

In-depth clinical interviews are conducted with the patient and any parents, teachers, spouses or other involved individuals. We take a full developmental, academic, social, medical and family history.

Current concerns and symptoms are reviewed in detail. Any pertinent records are also gathered and examined as part of the assessment process.


ADHD Behavior Rating Scales

Validated behavior rating scales designed to screen for ADHD are filled out by the patient, parents, teachers and other observers. These scales gauge the frequency and severity of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms across various settings.


Cognitive Testing

A battery of cognitive and neuropsychological tests is administered to assess domains like intellectual ability, memory, focus, processing speed, and executive functioning. The testing identifies strengths as well as any cognitive weaknesses contributing to symptoms.


Mental Health Screening

Questionnaires and clinical interviews screen for co-occurring conditions like learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and autism spectrum disorders. These are common with ADHD and may require separate diagnosis and treatment.


Functional Impairment Scales

Scales are given to rate the level of impairment ADHD symptoms create in major domains like school, work, home, health, finances, relationships, and self-esteem. Difficulties functioning in multiple settings helps confirm an ADHD diagnosis.


Collateral Information Gathering

Input from other sources is analyzed to corroborate findings. Past records, teacher and parental observations, work performance reports and medical data provide a longitudinal perspective demonstrating lifelong impairment.


Feedback Session

Once the comprehensive evaluation process is completed, the diagnosing clinician will schedule a feedback session to review all findings with the patient and any involved guardians or family members. They explain the outcome of testing and whether criteria were met to diagnose ADHD based on the amassed data.


Specific Diagnosis

If warranted, the exact ADHD diagnosis will be given, such as:

  • ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Presentation

  • ADHD Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Presentation

  • ADHD Combined Presentation

The type of ADHD indicates which core symptoms predominate. But impairments may overlap.


Written Report

A detailed written report summarizing the testing procedures, results, diagnosis, and recommendations is provided. This serves as a record that can be shared with schools, workplace disability services, healthcare providers, and others.


Next Steps Discussion


The evaluating clinician reviews treatment options and next steps to begin addressing functional impairments. This may include medication, therapy, school accommodations, workplace support, ADHD coaching, and specific coping strategies. Guidance is individualized to each patient’s needs and desires.


Proper diagnosis requires assessing ADHD symptoms and impairment holistically across settings and over time using various data sources. This thorough process allows our team at Renewing Mindsets to make an accurate diagnosis and guide effective treatment. Please reach out if we can assist with ADHD testing.


ADHD Treatment After Diagnosis


Being diagnosed with ADHD can come as a relief, providing explanation and direction after years of silently struggling and self-blame. But it is just the first step. Pursuing comprehensive ADHD treatment is essential to learning to thrive with the condition.

The key is developing a personalized treatment plan tailored to your or your child’s needs that is adjusted over time as necessary. Recommended options may include:


Medication Management

Stimulant medications like Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin are often effective in minimizing ADHD symptoms. But they are not one size fits all. The type, dosage, timing, and delivery method requirescustomization to each patient’s physiology for optimal results.

Our experts guide families through balancing effectiveness, side effects and lifestyle factors to find the best medication regimen. Non-stimulant medications and supplements are sometimes recommended as well.


Psychotherapy

Ongoing counseling provides crucial support in managing ADHD related issues. Cognitive behavioral therapy, acceptance therapy, mindfulness approaches, social skills training and family therapy are common options. Therapy serves to build coping, social, and problem solving skills over time.


ADHD Coaching

Coaches specializing in ADHD provide clients with structure, support, and accountability in implementing organizational systems, time management tactics, breaking down larger tasks, and prioritizing responsibilities. They help minimize daily functioning impairments.


Classroom Accommodations

Academic supports like extended time on assignments/tests, redirection and reinforcement, noise cancelling headphones, preferential seating, and resource room access may be granted with an ADHD diagnosis. Our team can facilitate this paperwork.


Workplace Accommodations

Adults with ADHD are entitled to workplace accommodations like flextime, noise controlled workspaces, modified responsibilities, additional task reinforcement, and assistance managing time and organization.


Lifestyle Adjustments

Optimizing sleep, nutrition, exercise, and stress management complements medical and behavioral treatments. Maintaining structure through calendars, reminders, checklists and routine are also beneficial.


Support Groups

Connection with other individuals and families navigating ADHD provides community, accountability, mentorship, and practical coping strategies. In-person and online support groups are available.


The key is customizing an integrated ADHD treatment plan incorporating medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, and other supports tailored to the patient’s needs, preferences and evolving challenges. Our compassionate providers at Renewing Mindsets guide families through implementing comprehensive treatment following diagnosis. Please reach out if our services can help you start the path to thriving with ADHD.


Signs You May Need an ADHD Assessment

Wondering if you should seek ADHD testing? The following persistent symptoms and behaviors may indicate evaluation is warranted:


Difficulty paying attention and staying focused

  • Easily distracted during conversations, lectures, reading, chores

  • Struggle listening carefully or following multi-step instructions

  • Daydreaming and zoning out frequently

  • Difficulty staying on task from start to finish


Hyperactivity and restlessness

  • Constant fidgeting, tapping, squirming when seated

  • Getting up frequently when expected to stay seated

  • Feeling internally restless even without obvious motor activity

  • Talking excessively or feeling uncomfortable with silence


Impulsivity

  • Difficulty patiently waiting one’s turn

  • Frequently interrupting others during conversations

  • Making quick decisions without adequately considering consequences

  • Blurting out responses before questions have been fully asked


Disorganization

  • Very messy bedroom, office, locker, and belongings

  • Chronic lateness and forgetfulness for appointments

  • Losing items frequently

  • Massive difficulty managing time or completing projects


Trouble staying on task

  • Avoidance or delay of tasks that require sustained mental effort

  • Extreme procrastination on projects and assignments

  • Difficulty completing paperwork, reports, forms

  • Easily distracted from chores or tasks requiring focus


If you notice these symptoms are ongoing across multiple settings like home and work, an ADHD assessment may provide clarity. Our team at Renewing Mindsets provides top-quality ADHD and neuropsychological testing for children, teens, college students, and adults in the Philadelphia metro area. Please reach out if we can be of assistance.




ADHD Testing and Diagnosis Services at Renewing Mindsets


Renewing Mindsets offers premier ADHD and neuropsychological testing, diagnosis and treatment services at our office conveniently located in Havertown on Philadelphia’s Main Line. Our clinical team has specialized expertise evaluating ADHD across the lifespan.

We provide comprehensive assessments for children (ages 5+) through adults that include:


  • Clinical interviews detailing developmental, academic, occupational, and ADHD symptom history

  • ADHD rating scales completed by the patient, parents, spouse/partners, and teachers

  • Objective cognitive testing measuring attention, memory, learning, processing speed, and executive functioning

  • Screening for co-occurring conditions like learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, ASD

  • Evaluation of functional impairment in home, school/work, health, relationships, self-esteem

  • Written report summarizing clinical interpretations, diagnosis, and treatment recommendations


Our ADHD specialists also guide patients in accessing helpful interventions following diagnosis:


  • ADHD medication management and prescription coordination

  • Individual and family psychotherapy

  • ADHD organization, time management, and focus coaching

  • Neurofeedback training to improve symptom control

  • Guidance obtaining school accommodations and workplace supports

  • Connections to community resources and peer support groups


If you need compassionate, evidence-based ADHD testing and treatment in the Philadelphia or Main Line region, please contact our office today to schedule an appointment. Together we can provide answers and a personalized plan so you can thrive living with ADHD.



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