Family Health Guide

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ADHD: Diagnosis

If you feel your child may have ADHD, your first call should be to your pediatrician. Some pediatricians feel comfortable diagnosing and prescribing treatment for ADHD, others may refer you to a specialist, like a developmental pediatrician who specializes in the condition, a neurologist or a psychologist.

Since there is no blood or imaging test to diagnose ADHD, your pediatrician or the specialist will review your child’s medical records and conduct a thorough physical examination to rule out other causes for your child’s problems, like:

Poor vision

It’s hard to pay attention when you can’t see the book, computer or blackboard.

Poor hearing

Hearing loss can make a child appear as if she’s not listening. Even children whose hearing is tested regularly can develop middle ear infections and subsequent hearing problems.


If your child’s thyroid is producing too much hormone, he could appear nervous or develop a “spacey” stare – symptoms that mimic ADHD.

Emotional trauma or response to change

Life events such as divorce, a recent move or a death in the family can alter a child’s behavior and cause him to lose interest in school or become aggressive.

Situational problems

A chaotic classroom, a disorganized home life or chronic lack of sleep can cause children to lose focus or act out.

Other learning disabilities or mental conditions

Anxiety, depression, dyslexia and other problems can cause symptoms similar to ADHD, or can co-exist with ADHD.