ADHD is generally diagnosed in elementary school. When older children are diagnosed, one of the criteria is that symptoms were present prior to 12 years of age. Diagnosis is based partly on history and observation during the office visit and partly through the use of standardized assessment tools. In our office we utilize Vanderbilt Assessments, though there are others that are validated for such use. The Vanderbilt Assessments should ideally be completed prior to the office visit. There are two parts to Vanderbilt Assessments – one is for the teacher(s), one is for the parent to complete.
When diagnosing ADHD, children are also evaluated for other possible conditions that could either be present along with ADHD or may masquerade as ADHD. Among those considered are cognitive deficits, learning disabilities, dyslexia, processing disorders, mood disorders, anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, and tic disorders (such as Tourette’s).