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Diagnosis of ADHD

1-minute read

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.

To make a diagnosis of ADHD, a specialist will need to follow strict criteria. These include that the ADHD symptoms:

  • began before the age of 7 and have persisted for 6 months or more
  • are present in more than one setting (for example, both 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

Children with ADHD often have other related problems, such as learning difficulties, sleep problems or anxiety. The health professional will also assess these and recommend how to deal with them.

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Last reviewed: September 2018

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