An ADHD test is designed to determine whether a patient’s symptoms are caused by this particular attention deficit disorder. However, since the disease can manifest itself in a wide variety of ways and symptoms can also occur in healthy people, there is no single test that can prove ADHD beyond doubt, but many different ones. Therefore, a detailed examination of the person and the performance of several tests are necessary for the diagnosis.
What tests are there?
The most popular ADHD tests are the questionnaires and self-tests offered on the Internet. Various providers give the patient or his parents the opportunity to answer questions from home and get an immediate result. Unfortunately, only very few of these tests are reliable, as they often come from dubious sources and the disease is so variable that many patients fall through the ranks with such standardised questions.
For a reliable diagnosis, the doctor therefore carries out other tests. He also has questionnaires filled out, but not only the typical symptoms, but also associated problems and other abnormalities. In addition, in a detailed patient interview he makes sure that the symptoms correspond to the ADHD criteria and can really be assigned to the attention deficit disorder. Just as important as the actual ADHD tests are further examinations that exclude other causes for the symptoms and provide information about the physical and mental health of the patient. Therefore, tests of intelligence, behaviour, sight and hearing and many more are also part of ADHD diagnostics.
What doctor tests these things?
For children, the paediatrician carries out the ADHD diagnosis, for adults the family doctor or psychiatrist. However, since a thorough physical and psychological examination is required in addition to the tests, different specialists may be necessary. Which doctors and disciplines are involved in ADHD testing therefore depends on the patient and the individual appearance of his or her disease.
Tests for children
Tests to be carried out with affected children serve either to make a diagnosis or to monitor therapy. It is particularly important that these tests are carried out in a child-oriented manner. While written answers to questions by parents and teachers are a good way of identifying abnormalities, children need more casual testing situations.
Especially procedures on the computer are therefore usually presented as a game in order to avoid distorting the results through lack of motivation. Questionnaires such as the SDQ (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire), the Conners Scales or the CBCL (Child Behavior Checklist) should therefore be completed by parents and teachers and are designed for diagnostic purposes. Older children can also answer the questions independently.
These tests provide information on behavioural problems, emotional and somatic complaints and other problems that occur in ADHD. Many other standardised tests are based on the same pattern, which are similarly common and are used at the discretion of the doctor. Many of these questionnaires thus cover not only ADHD but also numerous other diseases that can influence behaviour and concentration.
This means that although ADHD is not diagnosed beyond doubt, it is hardly possible to overlook any accompanying psychological problems. In addition to these behavioural tests, there are also tests of attention, which are structured differently. One example is the QB test, a computer-assisted method for the objective measurement of attention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity.
It can be used in diagnostics and therapy monitoring. The child sits in front of a monitor and should react to the stimuli displayed. During this process, he wears a headband with a reflector that sends data to the computer.
Comparable tests are also based on the principle of reaction testing. However, even these methods cannot prove what is causing the attention problems and whether it is ADHD. Another popular test is the TAP (test battery for attention testing), or the child-oriented form called KiTAP.
Here too, the child sits in front of a monitor and is supposed to react to given stimuli without being distracted by a disturbing factor. This method is used for therapy monitoring. There is a wide range of other tests based on the same principles that can be used by paediatricians, teachers, psychologists and other professionals and can be used at their discretion.