Understanding a Diagnosis of ADHD
by: Dr. Marc Funderlich
ADHD is the most common mood-related disorder in children and is being diagnosed more frequently, and at earlier ages than ever before. It affects about 10% of school age children (boys at a 4x higher rate than girls), an increase of 43% since 2003. Unfortunately, as high as 70% of these children will continue to be affected as adults. ADHD costs the United States $42.5 billion a year or about $14,000 per child.
ADHD almost never lives alone. Two-thirds of children with ADHD have what is called a co-morbidity, meaning they have another symptom such as:
- 50% dyscalculia, dyslectic
- 50% movement disorder
- 40% oppositional behavior
- 34% fear disorder
- 25% autism, Asperger, PDDNOS
- 14% behavioral disorders
- 11% tics
- 4% depression
It is important to note that children cannot be truly diagnosed with ADHD until the age of six. If your child is under six and a provider wants to diagnosis them with ADHD, I would suggest this is ill-advised. Taking medication at very young ages may do more harm than good.
ADHD is defined as a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development, and characterized as Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 ADHD: Inattention. Diagnosed when six (or more) symptoms have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is inconsistent with developmental level and that negatively impacts directly on social and academic/occupational activities. Examples might be:
- Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work or during other activities (e.g., overlooks or misses details, work is inaccurate)
- Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities (e.g., has difficulty remaining focused during lectures, conversations or lengthy reading)
- Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly (e.g., mind seems elsewhere even in the absence of any obvious distraction)
- Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., starts tasks but quickly loses focus and is easily sidetracked).
Type 2 ADHD: Hyperactivity and impulsivity. Diagnosed when six (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is inconsistent with developmental level and that negatively impacts directly on social and academic/occupational activities:
- Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet or squirms in seat
- Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected (e.g., leaves his or her place in the classroom, office or other workplace, or in other situations that require remaining in place)
- Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is inappropriate. (Note: In adolescents or adults, may be limited to feeling restless)
- Often unable to play or engage quietly in leisure activities, often “on the go,” acting as if “driven by a motor” (e.g., unable to be or uncomfortable being still for extended time, as in restaurants, meetings; may be experienced by others as being restless or difficult to keep up with)
- Often talks excessively
Type 3 ADHD will be diagnosed when the child exhibits symptoms of both Type 1 and 2.
Your doctor will rate the symptoms based on current severity:
- MILD: Few, if any, symptoms in excess of those required to make the diagnosis are present, and symptoms result in only minor functional impairments.
- MODERATE: Symptoms or functional impairment between “mild” and “severe” are present.
- SEVERE: Many symptoms in excess of those required to make the diagnosis or several symptoms that are particularly severe are present, or the symptoms result in marked impairment in social or occupational functioning.
A complete diagnosis of ADHD should read like this: Patient Name exhibits a moderate combined Type 3 ADHD diagnosis.
If your child has many of the symptoms from the above list or you have any questions about ADHD, give us a call and set up a complimentary consultation. Let’s discuss what can be done for your child from a natural perspective!