An editorial in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine outlines some of the criteria necessary to accurately diagnose ADHD in children and adolescents.
ADHD is the most common neuro-developmental disorder in young children and is marked by inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity — in the general population, it’s more prevalent among boys than in girls. Additionally, the combination of inattention AND hyperactivity is also more common in boys.
Because many traits of the disorder mimic normal childhood behaviors, the journal maintains that the symptoms should be beyond the the norm and should be severe enough to interfere with learning and social interaction.
Diagnosing the disorder in adolescents can trickier because as the child gets older, the hyperactivity component subsides somewhat; thus, the disorder is harder for parents and teachers to recognize — in these instances, physicians often rely on self-reporting of symptoms from patients themselves.
According to the DSM-V, 6 of ten criteria of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity must be met for accurate diagnosis. The criteria for inattention are as follows:
- often makes careless mistakes
- often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities
- Often doewsn’t seem to listen when directly spoken to
- Often doesn’t follow through on instructions – fails to finish homework or chores
- Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities
- Often avoids, dislikes or is hesitant to perform tasks that require mental effort for a long period of time
- Often is easily distracted
- Is often forgetful in daily activities
Criteria for hyperactivity-impulsivity:
- Often fidges with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat
- Often leaves seat when expected to remain seated
- Often runs about or climbs in inappropriate setting
- Often unable to take part in leisure activities quietly
- Is often “on the go” or behaves as if “driven by a motor”
- Often talks excessively
- Often blurts out an answer before a question is completed
- Often has trouble waiting for his/her turn
- Often interrupts or intrudes on others — butts into conversations or games