David P. Hurford, Ph.D.
Dr. Chris Christman
Dr. Sean Lauderdale
Dr. Rick Lindskog
Dr. Jan Smith
Shanise Butts, B.S.
Jordan Boux, B.S.
ADHD is a neurobiologically-based diagnosis applied to children and adults who consistently display certain characteristic behaviors over a period of time. The most common features include:
In order to meet diagnostic criteria, these behaviors must be excessive, long-term, and pervasive. The behaviors must appear before age 7, and continue for at least 6 months. A crucial consideration is that the behaviors must create a real handicap in at least two areas of a person's life, such as school, home, work, or social settings. These criteria set ADHD apart from the "normal" distractibility and impulsive behavior of childhood, or the effects of the hectic and overstressed lifestyle prevalent in our society.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) some common symptoms of ADHD include: often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes; often has difficulty sustaining attention to tasks; often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly; often fails to follow instructions carefully and completely; losing or forgetting important things; feeling restless, often fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming; running or climbing excessively; often talks excessively; often blurts out answers before hearing the whole question; often has difficulty awaiting turn.
To meet diagnostic criteria for ADHD, the behaviors must be:
Please keep in mind that the exact nature and severity of ADHD symptoms varies from person to person. Approximately one-third of people with ADHD do not have the hyperactive or overactive behavior component, for example.
Approximately 30 to 50% of children with reading difficulties also experience ADHD, and nearly all children with ADHD have some difficulties with reading. There are several types of ADHD. Although all of the types involve a child not being able to maintain attention, not all of the types involve hyperactivity. Therefore, your child could struggle with keeping attention during demanding or less stimulating tasks which do not involve excessive amounts of behavior. Some areas of ADHD involve children simply not being able to attend to the task at hand. There is no jumping out of one's seat or excessive amounts of inappropriate behavior. So, it is possible for a child to have ADHD primarily inattentive type without you really knowing. Of course, you might notice that your child may not be able to remember instructions or "forget" to do something that you just asked him or her to do.
At the Center for READing we routinely assess all of our children for ADHD. We do this because many times a parent will bring in his or her child to be assessed because of a reading problem only to find that his or her child has good phonological processing and reading skills, but has difficulties with attention. It is sometimes difficult to know which difficulty is present without a thorough examination of both possibilities. The behaviors associated with dyslexia and ADHD, particularly in young children, can appear similar. For example, it will be so difficult for a child who has ADHD to attend to the reading task that it might appear that he or she has dyslexia. A child who has dyslexia is going to have difficulty maintaining attention to a task they he or she is not capable of achieving. It is imperative to examine both reading and attentional skills to determine the nature of the difficulty.
As can be seen in the table below, there are four classifications of ADHD:
|Predominantly Inattentive Type
|Predominantly Hyperactivity-Impulsive Type
|Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)||
An appropriate diagnosis of ADHD should occur only after a team of individuals have each provided their expertise. The information that is necessary for an accurate diagnosis of ADHD involves each of the following:
You could have your child assessed by the appropriate individuals who can determine if your child has ADHD. It is important that the diagnosis involve the types of information described above.
If you would like, you could have your child take a continuous performance test to get an idea of further consideration is warranted. This might be particularly important if you have no other clues that your child might be experiencing ADHD. This is more likely going to be the case for ADHD Primarily Inattentive Type than it would be for ADHD Primarily Hyperactivity-Impulsive Type. Children who have ADHD Primarily Hyperactivity-Impulsive Type are usually quite obvious in their excessive and inappropriate levels of behavior, while children with ADHD Primarily Inattentive Type are very often not obvious in their inattentiveness. When children's behavior in a classroom is disruptive, every one notices. When a child is sitting quietly in his or her seat, not disrupting the class in any way, but also not able to stay on task or to attend to the instruction, it may be difficult to immediately notice. It is for this reason, that we typically request that parents consider ADHD testing to factor out attentional difficulties and how attentional problems might be affecting reading.
The research that is generated by the Center for READing is concerned with three areas:
This section provides information regarding the technical information associated with the identification techniques and the training paradigm used by the Center for READing.