Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

There are three primary varieties or types of ADHD:  Primarily Inattentive Type, Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive Type, and Combined Type.  And while ADHD may be present from a very young age, it is difficult to properly diagnose before the sixth birthday.  Therefore, most experts and professional organizations recommend that the diagnosis be reserved for individuals at least six years of age with occasional exceptions.
    Because of the controversy surrounding ADHD and its treatment, there has been an abundance of research in this area to better refine the methods used by the healthcare community to diagnose and manage the disorder.  There has been a variety of pathways employed for the evaluation of a child with possible or suspected ADHD including questionnaires completed by parents, caregivers, and teachers, observation and testing performed by primary care providers and mental health providers, or merely a thorough history of the symptoms combined with a physical examination to exclude any other problems.
    While no single test for ADHD has proven to be the perfect answer to its diagnosis, more and more is being done to make the diagnosis more objective and less subject to the opinions and biases of everyone involved.  To this end, there are now methods approved by the FDA and gaining more popularity amongst healthcare professionals for the objective evaluation of children with possible ADHD as well as monitoring the outcomes of a specific treatment plan instituted for each child.
    These objective tests require the use of proprietary technology now employed by some doctor’s offices where the patient sits at a computer in a specially designed module for about twenty minutes.  The patient undergoes a series of task completion activities displayed on the monitor in order to measure attention/focus and impulsivity while invisible sensors in the module actually monitor and quantify body motion.  The results are compared to an age-matched control group to arrive at conclusions regarding attention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, etc.  The results are also printed in both numeric and graphic representations to discuss with the family and to help in answering questions that may arise.
    Only a few practices around the Atlanta metropolitan area currently utilize this type of testing, but it is likely that it will continue to gain favor as a new and proven modality for the diagnosis and monitoring of ADHD patients.  While the clinical acumen of mental health professionals cannot be replaced, at Pediatric Associates of Lawrenceville we have recently begun to use the system in our office and look forward to the technology’s ability to assist us in better serving our families affected by ADHD.

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