PlusFour Solutions: Guidance through Assessment

Educational Assessment

Attention-Based Disorders

More students are referred for testing for problems related to attention than for any other reason. Many teachers, parents and professionals are quick to mention Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) when seeking to understand a particular student’s struggle. However, children have wide variations in what are normal levels of distractibility and children can have trouble with attention for reasons including fatigue, hunger, anxiety, learning disability, allergies, depression and many other conditions, both physical and emotional.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is characterized by developmentally inappropriate impulsivity, attention, and in some cases, hyperactivity. AD/HD is a neurobiological disorder that affects three-to-five percent of school-age children. Until recent years, it was believed that children outgrew AD/HD in adolescence. Perhaps, this was because hyperactivity often diminishes during the teen years. However, it is now known that many symptoms continue into adulthood. In fact, current research reflects rates of roughly two to four percent among adults.

A comprehensive assessment of problems related to attention involves more than a checklist and some anecdotal accounts. It is important to compare children relative to gender, age, developmental level, and cognitive ability and to gain a thorough understanding of family history and dynamics. Data must be carefully gathered from many sources including parents, teachers, direct observation, review of records and psychological testing (routinely including a computerized continuous performance task).

In my years of experience and consultation with various physicians, many children with anxiety and reading disorders are misdiagnosed with ADHD after only cursory examination. A comprehensive assessment, including the procedures mentioned above, is the state-of-the-art in assessment of attention-based disorders.

You can learn more about Attention-based disorders from the following web-sites.