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Criteria For Diagnosing ADHD

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child who has symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, poor school performance, or behavior problems be evaluated for ADHD.

These specific criteria, established by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) should be used in diagnosing ADHD:

  • Parents need to provide evidence of ADHD behaviors, including the age when behaviors began, how long the symptoms last, where (settings) symptoms are seen, and the degree of problems caused by the behaviors (functional impairment).
  • Classroom teachers (or other school professionals) need to provide evidence of ADHD behaviors, including how long the symptoms last and the degree of problems caused by the behaviors (functional impairment). They also need to provide information about any other conditions the child may have.
  • The child should be evaluated for other conditions (such as learning disabilities or emotional illnesses) that often occur along with ADHD.

Other diagnostic tests (such as blood lead levels and thyroid hormone levels) are not needed to diagnose ADHD. However, other diagnostic tests may be needed if other conditions (such as medical illness, learning disabilities, or emotional illnesses) are suspected.