Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (or ADHD) is a common childhood condition. The exact cause is unknown but research suggests it is caused by differences in the chemical levels in the brain. It can make it difficult for a child to know when to stop or can affect their ability to concentrate.
ADHD can have a significant effect on the day to day life of the child affected and their family. This is a lifelong condition, but the symptoms and the way in which these affect their lives can change overtime. At Hampshire & Surrey Psychology we are able to provide a diagnostic service, followed by either medication recommendations or therapy which can help in dealing with the symptoms.
Three types of ADHD
There are three recognised types of ADHD; predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, predominantly inattentive (sometimes referred to as attention-deficit disorder) & combined presentation. These symptoms can affect your child in various ways depending which symptoms are experienced and how severe they are. Children with ADHD often have difficulty with social skills, self-control, organization, planning and learning.
How is ADHD diagnosed?
To be diagnosed with ADHD a child must display six or more symptoms of inattentiveness or six or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Our Hampshire & Surrey Psychology diagnostic service offers a full and comprehensive assessment which aims to help you to better understand the difficulties that you may have been experiencing. This assessment will usually last around 2 hours and will include:
- An initial telephone conversation following the referral. This will give you a chance to ask any questions that you may have and discuss the assessment in further detail
- Detailed developmental history from parents. This will include details of the presenting symptoms, how these have developed over time, family history, how the symptoms are affecting the individual in different settings, medical history and how long they have been experiencing these difficulties.
- QbCheck – this is a computer based test which objectively measures the three core symptoms of ADHD; activity, inattention and impulsivity. The test takes between 15 and 20 minutes depending on the individual’s age. The results are then analysed by the system and compared to individuals of the same age and gender both with and without diagnoses of ADHD.
- Scoring and assessment of ADHD specific questionnaires. As part of the assessment questionnaires will be sent prior to the appointment. These will need to be completed by the parents, child and school. These will be considered alongside qualitative feedback, particularly detailed feedback from the school.
- Report writing. You will be provided with a full and detailed report outlining the outcome of the assessment as well as any recommendations for treatment. If medication is recommended you can then liaise with the Psychiatrist and your GP to access this.
NICE guidelines note that the treatment plan must be adapted to the symptoms being experienced, their impact on their daily lives and the age of the child. In most cases for school age children a group-based parent training or education programme should be used first and following this a combination of psychological therapy and medication.
Medication – drug treatment should be held for those with severe symptoms, severe levels of impairment, who have refused all other approaches or have not responded to previous non-drug interventions. Methylphenidate, atomoxetine and dexamfetamine are recommended as medications for ADHD.
Individualised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – this is likely to be offered to older adolescents. CBT is a therapy which assumes that a person’s mood is related to their patterns of thought. These thoughts then continue to affect a person’s mood, behaviour and physical state. CBT aims to stop the negative cycles of thought which cause you to feel low, therefore improving mood and leading to more positive behaviours.