Looking to have an ADHD assessment conducted but not sure what type of specialist to see and what the differences are? Neuropsychologists have a very different way of diagnosing ADHD compared to the typical paediatrician due to their different type of expertise. Paediatricians will typically diagnose based on opinions of parents and possibly teachers through questionnaires and meeting with the family. This type of assessment is brief and does not include formal testing of attention skills or other cognitive abilities. A neuropsychologist will typically have a 1 hour interview with the parent/s and then take 3-4 hours to formally assess the child. They will also typically obtain standardised measures of attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity using parent and teacher ratings. Formal and objective testing of attention skills is conducted in order to get an unbiased measure of what attention problems the child is experiencing. Part of the diagnostic criteria of ADHD is that a child is affected academically or socially, and this will also be assessed formally through testing . A neuropsychologist is also specialised in looking at psychological and behavioural issues that often can present as attention problems, and make sure other underlying factors such as other processing/cognitive issues are ruled out. Many children with visual processing and auditory processing deficits are misdiagnosed as having ADHD, which then can lead to years of inappropriate therapy which has no benefit. At the SCDC we are committed to finding out the exact nature of your child’s cognitive issues so that we can tailor therapy uniquely to your child’s needs. Paediatricians and neuropsychologists often work together due to their different areas of expertise as neuropsychologist cannot medicate children.
Confused about the different ADHD assessments available?
ADHD assessment at the Sydney Cognitive Development Centre
STEP 1: Initial phone interview with our intake officerPrior to booking an appointment all of our patients go through a screening process by our intake officer, Vivian Chiu. Vivian will go through all your areas of concern as well as ask you about your child’s general skills in other areas. At this stage you may be asked to forward us reports from other assessments you may have done so that we can determine the extent of testing still required. An initial consultation with the parents will be booked as well as the assessment date for us to formally assess your child.
STEP 2: Completion of standardised rating scales by parents & teachersAfter your appointment has been booked we will then send you links to online standardised rating scales. These include (1) a developmental history questionnaire, (2) a comprehensive development screening questionnaire looking at diagnostic criteria for 13 different disorders including all three subtypes of ADHD, (3) a questionnaire looking at executive skills (eg. planning and organisation). These questionnaires not only look at symptoms of ADHD and attention issues, but also look at social, emotional and behavioural issues both at home and at school that may be resulting in behaviours that may be misdiagnosed as ADHD.
STEP 3: Initial consultation with parentsThis involves a 1 hour interview with the parents to look holistically at how the child is functioning and to help further guide the assessment process. This consultation goes through the developmental history and other possible issues that may underlie attention problems either at school or at home (eg. visual and hearing issues, head injury, sleep problems, sleep apnoea, etc) to help make a differential diagnosis.
STEP 4: Formal neuropsychological assessmentThe child then undergoes a neuropsychological assessment looking at the key features of ADHD. These include academic underperformance (comparison of IQ vs academic level), executive planning/organisation issues, and full attention testing (see below). Often families are referred to paediatricians for ADHD assessment, however often these paediatricians will need to refer out for formal testing to obtain the vital information for diagnosis . Even a psychologist cannot conduct the tests as the specialist neuropsychological tests should only be conducted by someone with specialist neuropsychological training. Make sure that any person you choose to do your assessment can formally assess all the required attention and executive skills commonly seen in children with ADHD.
- Visual attention span
- Auditory attention span
- Visual selective attention
- visual sustained attention
- Auditory sustained attention
- Switching attention
- Divided attention (auditory vs visual)
- Divided attention (auditory vs auditory)
- Impulsivity to auditory information
- Impulsivity to visual information
- Abstract concept formation
- Cognitive Flexibility
- Utilisation of feedback
- Time management