Navigating ADHD Diagnosis & Assessment; Here’s What You Need To Know

ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is one of the most over diagnosed conditions in neuropsychological healthcare. The main reason for this is trauma has a way of presenting itself as ADHD. Someone may display signs of hyperactivity, inattention and brain fatigue but do not have ADHD.

The only way to truly assess whether an individual has ADHD is through a standardized clinical assessment which is provided and available at McDowall Integrative Psychology & healthcare. This comprehensive assessment takes into account both individual behaviour and cognitive processing. Both are highly important in understanding the true origin of presenting behaviour.

Typical categorization of ADHD:

  • Inattention (difficulty focusing and concentrating)
  • Hyperactivity and impulsiveness

Individuals struggling with ADHD often fall into one of the above-aforementioned categories.

You’ve probably heard people refer to ADD and ADHD. These acronyms do not coincide and actually differ depending on the individual presenting concerns. Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is less obvious and usually presents with less pronounced symptoms. This makes ADD more likely to be misdiagnosed or missed altogether.

The main signs of inattentiveness are: (1)

  • Having a short attention span (easily distracted)
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Appearing forgetful or losing things
  • Being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious and time-consuming
  • Appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions
  • Constantly changing activities or tasks
  • Having difficulty organizing tasks

Hyperactivity and impulsiveness: (1)

  • Being unable to sit still for long periods of time
  • Constantly fidgeting
  • Being unable to concentrate on tasks
  • Excessive physical movements
  • Excessive talking
  • Being unable to wait their turn
  • Acting without thinking
  • Interrupting conversations
  • Little or no sense of danger

Most people associate ADHD or ADD with children, however, it is not uncommon to see an adult newly diagnosed. Many adults show little to no symptoms in childhood but start to progress in early adulthood. It is important to understand that childhood and adulthood presentations are often very different. Which makes ADHD a bit more difficult to recognize and diagnose. At McDowall Integrative Psychology & Healthcare our psychotherapists are highly trained in-clinic assessments and are supervised by clinical psychologists with over 20 years of experience. You can be confident that your ADHD Assessment is in the best hands.

But what if it’s not ADHD or ADD?

ADHD in adults can occur alongside several problems and conditions. It is typical to see other presenting concerns like anxiety and depression. It is important to evaluate the patient as a whole and understand what is truly contributing to their overall behaviour and state. This means providing comprehensive medical assessments which are available through our Naturopathic Doctors in Toronto. This is how we take a root cause approach to healthcare.

What to expect from psychological assessment of ADHD?

The first step in ADHD assessment involves a thorough diagnostic interview. Which involves gathering information from the patient and other independent sources. These sources may include other family members, spouses and friends. Once the qualitative information is gathered your psychotherapist will move on to quantitative testing. This involves reviewing the DSM-5 symptom checklist, completing standardized behaviour rating scales for ADHD Therapy and any other clinical assessments advised by the psychotherapist.

Integrative clinical assessment

This involves the comprehensive assessment of other contributing factors and symptoms presenting in the patient. This allows the practitioner to screen for other present comorbid conditions such as anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar etc.  Other pathologies or conditions can mimic the symptoms of ADHD/ADD and should be properly evaluated to ensure the proper root cause of illness is understood.

Medical examination including routine bloodwork and medical screening should be conducted with a family physician or naturopathic doctor to rule out other potential causes.

Additional Testing:

Further testing may be required if the psychotherapist is concerned about potential underlying learning disabilities or cognitive impairment. This may include psychoeducational testing, intelligence assessments etc. Further testing may be required to fully understand the scope and impact ADHD is having on an individual and may be required to complete a fully comprehensive treatment plan.

Treatment Planning:

At the end of the assessment, you will sit down with your psychotherapist to review a comprehensive report and treatment plan. The report will give an overview of data collected throughout the process and will give you a written summary of where you or your child are at. The psychotherapist will then formulate a treatment plan based on behaviour modifications, tools and techniques for management. This can help an individual structure time, and establish routine and predictability while creating new positive outcomes.

Some of these changes may include:

  • Creating a suitable environment
  • Learning how to provide positive reinforcement and feedback
  • Creating realistic expectations and boundaries

CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a short-term approach that helps pivot negative thoughts and patterns into more positive approaches. Your psychotherapist will take you through behaviour modification exercises. Which will help you identify the motivations behind your behaviour, thoughts and actions. This allows you to then create more positive practical ways of dealing with your emotions and handling problematic or undesirable behaviour.

CBT has proven to be the most effective approach for people with ADHD.

Psychotherapy is a great tool for anyone looking to improve their quality of life, emotion, behaviours and feelings. Sometimes it takes someone outside to look in and help you create a plan or give you the tools you need to make the changes you desire. Whatever your concern or journey is we are here to help.

Coming to terms with ADHD

ADHD can be a surprising diagnosis especially when the diagnosis is made later in life. It is common for individuals to feel like they spent their whole life being a person, who really turned out to be a result of a condition. This can provide both peace and discomfort. Whatever, your reaction is to diagnosis we are here to support you every step of the way. Coming to terms with ADHD can be like forming a new identity, a new version of yourself that you are just starting to understand. As a parent, this may be understanding why your child struggles with certain tasks or areas of their life. A deeper understanding can then help us make better choices which benefit the future. If you are hesitant or unsure whether ADHD testing is the next step book a free consultation with us to learn more.

Free consultations give us the opportunity to get to know you and decide whether we are the right fit for you. Contact McDowall today at 416-495-5555 ext. 1 to book a free consultation