Fifth Avenue Psychiatry specializes in the accurate diagnosis of ADD/ADHD which often includes Neuropsychological Testing. Unfortunately, many adolescents, teenagers and adults go misdiagnosed. Psychological Testing can help distinguish an underlying anxiety disorder - or even normal energetic adolescents - from what is truly ADD or ADHD.
Depending on the presenting complaint, age and other factors a battery of psychological tests will be recommended. The specific group of tests can range from a small treatment focused battery to guide treatment to a thorough educational assessment that can uncover potential learning disabilities.
What tests are used to diagnose ADD/ADHD?
Neuropsychological testing involves a battery of objective and standardized tests. Usually, the doctor gets ADD/ADHD assessments from the parents, teacher or supervisor. Some common rating scales include:
- The Vanderbilt Assessment Scale - reviews symptoms of ADHD according to the DSM-IV criteria. It also screens for co-existing conditions such as behavioral disorder, oppositional-defiant disorder, anxiety, and depression.
- Behavior Assessment System for Adolescents - assesses hyperactivity, aggression and behavioral problems. It also addresses anxiety, depression, attention and learning problems and lack of certain essential skills.
- Adolescent Behavior Checklist/Teacher Report Form - assesses physical complaints, aggressive or delinquent behavior and withdrawal.
Other important diagnostic tools include computer-based “continuous performance tests” where the adolescent or teen gives very simple responses (i.e., click a button) to a simple stimulus (numbers, letters, etc.) on a computer screen.
These tests are designed to be long and tedious so if an adolescent has ADD/ADHD they will be challenged. The attention they display in this test, and any subsequent mistakes or mistake patterns, are analyzed to help understand the individual weaknesses. Adolescents with ADD/ADHD will make specific errors on this test; some of which also measure hyperactivity.
These tests include Continuous Performance tests such as:
- Individual Variables of Attention
- Test of Variables of Attention
- Connors Continuous Performance Test
Simpler Continuous Performance tests, which are shorter in duration and provide less sophisticated data, include:
- Rapidly Recurring Target Figures Test
- Digit Cancellation Tasks
Once there is an ADD/ADHD diagnosis, the doctor may request other tests in order to rule out other causes, such as:
- Blood diseases, i.e., thyroid disease
- Blood lead levels
- CT scan or MRI for brain abnormalities
- Encephalograph test brain waves to measure electrical activity in the brain
- Hearing and vision