If you are concerned that your child may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the first step is to see a doctor. The diagnosis can only be made after a detailed assessment of the child’s behaviour, including interviews with parents or carers and the school.
The diagnosis is usually made by a specialist paediatrician or child psychiatrist after referral from a doctor.
- began before the age of 7 and have persisted for 6 months or more
- are present in more than one setting (for example, school and home)
- have caused significant impairment, at school, home or socially
- are unusual for the child’s age and developmental level
- are not better explained by another mental or physical condition, family circumstances or stress.
A diagnosis of ADHD can be controversial, and some health professionals have been concerned that it has been overdiagnosed in recent years. Other problems, such as a traumatic family environment, brain injury or disability, can sometimes cause children to behave in ways that seem like ADHD.
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Last reviewed: November 2016