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Understanding ADHD Testing - Philadelphia ADHD Testing & Treatment

Targeted ADHD treatment in Philadelphia facilitated through comprehensive evaluations by specialists unlocking your mental health potential.

ADHD Testing in Philadelphia & The Main Line: Finding Answers and Renewing Mindsets

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurological condition that makes it challenging to regulate attention, thoughts, emotions, and behavior. An estimated 8-10% of children and 4-5% of adults have ADHD, but it often goes undiagnosed and untreated. Getting an accurate ADHD evaluation in Philadelphia or the Main Line area is the first step to getting effective treatment and taking back control of your life.

Understanding ADHD Testing

ADHD testing involves a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation to determine if your symptoms meet the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis. This testing can provide clarity and validation for those who have struggled for years without knowing why. The testing process examines the following:

Current ADHD symptoms - The evaluation will look at issues with inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, disorganization, forgetfulness, restlessness, emotional dysregulation, and difficulty starting/completing tasks.

Childhood history - ADHD begins in childhood, so it’s important to look back at school reports, developmental milestones, and recollections from parents and siblings. Persistent issues as a child can confirm an ADHD diagnosis.

Co-occurring conditions - ADHD commonly overlaps with other conditions like anxiety, depression, OCD, sleep disorders, learning disabilities, and substance abuse. Identifying co-occurring disorders is key for effective treatment.

Cognitive testing - Standardized tests measure attention span, memory, processing speed, cognitive flexibility, and organizational skills. Poor performance indicates functional impairment related to ADHD.

Rule out other causes - The testing determines that ADHD symptoms are not better explained by other medical, neurological or psychiatric disorders.

Assess impact - Information is gathered about how ADHD symptoms impair daily life at home, school, work, and in relationships. This demonstrates the level of disability experienced.

Finding an ADHD Specialist in Philadelphia and the Main Line in Renewing Mindsets

A deep ADHD understanding begins with getting an ADHD evaluation from an experienced specialist is crucial for an accurate diagnosis. General practitioners may not have the expertise required to conduct thorough ADHD assessments. Seeking out a specialist can prevent misdiagnosis and trial-and-error with medication.

ADHD Testing Process and Components

Comprehensive ADHD testing follows clinical practice guidelines and typically takes place over multiple appointments. Here’s an overview of what to expect:

Clinical Interviews

You’ll have extended conversations with the clinician about your symptoms, childhood history, medical background, family history, and treatment goals. They’ll gather information about how ADHD affects your daily functioning. For children, interviews are also conducted with parents and teachers.

Rating Scales

You and anyone close to you who knows your behaviors well will fill out standardized rating scales about ADHD symptoms like inattention, hyperactivity, executive function deficits, and more. The results are scored to compare your symptoms to established thresholds for an ADHD diagnosis.

Neuropsychological Testing

These standardized pen-and-paper or computerized tests evaluate thinking skills related to attention, memory, planning, problem-solving, processing speed, cognitive flexibility, and more. They help pinpoint cognitive weaknesses characteristic of ADHD vs. other conditions.

Medical Exam

Your provider will either perform a physical exam themselves or request medical records from your physician to rule out other potential causes of symptoms. They’ll inquire about your health and medication history.

School/Work Records

Previous school reports detailing learning, behaviors, relationships, and accomplishments can help establish onset before age 12 and lifelong impairment. For adults, work performance reviews are examined.

Collateral Input

The clinician will interview people who knew you as a child and others familiar with your current functioning, such as parents, partners, or co-workers. This provides third-party perspectives on your symptoms.

Once all testing components are completed, the clinician analyzes and integrates the results to determine if you meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD based on the DSM-5, the diagnostic manual for psychiatric disorders. You’ll go over the written report during a follow-up visit and have a chance to ask any questions about the diagnosis.

Understanding ADHD Testing - Philadelphia ADHD Testing & Treatment

Benefits of ADHD Testing

While getting an ADHD evaluation may seem daunting, the benefits make it worthwhile:

  • Gain clarity - Testing provides objective confirmation of suspected ADHD and reduces uncertainty about yourself.

  • Get effective treatment - An accurate diagnosis opens the doors to ADHD-specific therapies and medications that can greatly improve symptoms.

  • Feel validated - Testing can help justify years of struggles and proof that symptoms are real, not a personal shortcoming.

  • Better self-awareness - Understanding ADHD provides insight into your behaviors, emotions, strengths and weaknesses.

  • Improve relationships - Diagnosis often improves family dynamics once there is an explanation for behaviors.

  • Find workplace accommodations - Testing documentation enables access to ADA accommodations for school or work.

  • Feel empowered - Testing is the first step in taking control of ADHD and reaching your full potential.

How an ADHD Diagnosis Leads to Renewing Mindsets

Receiving an ADHD diagnosis as an adult or parent of a diagnosed child provides explanation for lifelong difficulties and finally shifts mindsets in a more positive direction. Here’s how testing can lead to renewing mindsets about yourself or your child:

  • From: Something is wrong with me/my child → To: My child’s brain works differently

  • An ADHD diagnosis explains behaviors are due to neurobiological differences, not personal shortcomings or poor parenting.

  • From: I’m stupid and lazy → To: My ADHD gets in the way of reaching my potential

  • You recognize ADHD symptoms prevent you from showing your true abilities.

  • From: I can’t accomplish my goals → To: I can thrive with the right strategies for my ADHD

  • Treatment and coaching helps you pursue goals by playing to your strengths and reducing weaknesses.

  • From: I’m scatterbrained and disorganized → To: My executive functioning skills are underdeveloped

  • You understand forgetfulness, messiness, chronic lateness stem from ADHD-related deficits in executive functioning.

  • From: I’m flaky and irresponsible → To: My ADHD makes time-management and planning really difficult

  • You learn how ADHD impacts perception of time, task initiation, scheduling, organization and memory.

  • From: I’m weird and don’t fit in → To: I process the world differently than others

  • You realize social struggles are due to sensory sensitivities and missing social cues - not inherent weirdness.

  • From: I’m a problem child → To: I have a lot of energy and creativity to channel

  • Parents shift from punishing behaviors to finding positive outlets for a child’s high activity level, impulsivity and outside-the-box thinking.

Finding the Right Treatment after an ADHD Diagnosis

ADHD testing provides the starting point for treatment. While medication is very effective for most people with ADHD, it works best combined with other therapies, strategies and supports.

Here are some options to discuss with your treatment providers:

  • Medication - Stimulants like Adderall or Vyvanse are standard first-choice medications for ADHD along with non-stimulants like Strattera or Wellbutrin. Finding optimal dosing takes time and patience.

  • Education - ADHD coaching and support groups help you better understand symptoms, set goals, and implement strategies. Kids benefit from classroom accommodations.

  • Talk therapy - Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective for minimizing negative thought patterns. Emotion-focused therapy helps manage emotional volatility related to ADHD.

  • Organization/planning - Assistants, devices, apps, bullet journaling, and other external supports compensate for executive functioning deficits.

  • Better sleep hygiene - ADHD often goes hand-in-hand with sleep disorders, so improving bedtime routines and sleep quality enhances functioning.

  • Exercise - Regular cardio exercise relieves stress, boosts dopamine, and improves ADHD symptoms.

  • Meditation/mindfulness - Meditation enhances focus and emotional control. Mindfulness teaches self-awareness of ADHD symptoms.

  • Nutrition - A healthy diet reduces inflammation while omega-3’s, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, and probiotics benefit ADHD brains.

The most effective approach combines medication, external compensations for deficits, talk therapy for residual struggles, and protective lifestyle factors like nutritious meals, solid sleep and regular exercise. Integrating these evidence-based treatments leads to renewed functioning, confidence and quality of life.

Finding Hope with an ADHD Diagnosis

Initially receiving an ADHD diagnosis can feel overwhelming. But identifying the source of lifelong struggles is the first step to making positive changes. Seeking out testing and treatment is an act of self-care to gain control over the impact ADHD has had on your mental health and daily functioning. Take the time to find an experienced specialist for a comprehensive evaluation, you can reach out to Renewing Mindsets. An accurate diagnosis leads to effective treatment, renewed mindsets and building a lifestyle that helps you thrive with ADHD. You deserve to feel hope about your future.

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