Differential diagnosis | Diagnosis of ADHD

Differential diagnosis

As in the field of ADHD and other areas, the problem of diagnosing “ADHD” lies in the tendency to assign a supposedly “small” problem directly to a central learning problem. This means that children or adults can also “simply” suffer from a lack of concentration. This is not always ADHD.

There are also various behavioural problems in children. Not least because of this, a differential diagnostic differentiation of the symptoms is necessary. On the basis of the various diagnostic surveys, it is already clear that some areas specifically try to exclude other diseases.

For example, the physician tries to exclude neurological diseases by means of differential diagnosis by means of various internal and neurological examinations of various metabolic disorders, visual and/or hearing disorders and, in particular, to assign the actual cause to any existing states of exhaustion. Differential diagnostic disorders include, among other things, the exclusion of profound psychological impairments, such as Tourette’s syndrome, depression, anxiety disorders, mania, compulsions (tics), autism, Asperger’s syndrome and bipolar disorders (= manic-depressive disorders). Only rarely do children suffer from another of these diseases in addition to ADHD.

In the cognitive area, reduced intelligence, partial performance disorders such as dyslexia or dyscalculia should be excluded, as well as giftedness or partial lack of concentration. In particular, if problems in the differential diagnosis are already being defined, profound developmental disorders, affective disorders and a symptom-amplifying home environment should be excluded. Differential diagnosis should also include profound developmental disorders, affective disorders and a home environment that reinforces symptoms.


Children and adults suffering from ADHD find it difficult to concentrate, the distractibility is immense. It is also noticeable that work that has been started is often not finished. This is exactly the point where the problems become clear, to which a child with ADHD in particular can be exposed at school.

Even if the intelligence is in the normal, sometimes even above-average range, those affected cannot or only with great difficulty compensate for the deficits caused by a lack of concentration. It is not uncommon for children and adults with ADHD to also have a reading, spelling or arithmetic weakness. The combination of ADHD and partial performance deficits (dyslexia or dyscalculia) cannot be excluded.

In order to be able to help those affected, the therapy of ADHD must be targeted. Especially in childhood, rebuking and insulting children does not change anything. Parents and teachers need patience and above all (self) control. Consistent educational action, the setting up and observance of agreed rules is the top priority for ADHD affected children.