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.

The common symptoms of ADHD fall into three categories:


  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Quickly changing from one activity to another
  • Easily bored
  • Difficult in being organized
  • Problems finishing tasks
  • Difficulty learning new things
  • Daydreaming


  • Difficulty waiting
  • Impatient
  • Interrupts people
  • Overreactions to feelings and emotional situations
  • Has difficulty grasping the consequences of situations


  • Moves non-stop
  • Fidgets whilst sitting
  • Moves quickly from place to place often
  • Picks objects up to play with them
  • Problems with being quiet
  • Difficulty sitting for any length of time
  • Constant talking

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.


Q: Will my child’s school or college accept the outcome of an assessment conducted in the private sector?

A: Many parents and carers may worry or may have heard that the assessment findings will not be accepted by their child’s school or college because the assessment has not been conducted by clinicians working in the NHS. The issue is not whether your child has been assessed within the NHS or the private sector, but whether the assessment has been carried out by suitably trained, qualified and experienced clinicians. All of the clinicians on our multi-disciplinary team are fully trained and highly experienced in the assessment and diagnosis of autism. The clinical leads for our autism pathway also work in autism assessment in the NHS. Schools and colleges will therefore be able to accept the findings as reliable and valid.


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.