ADHD is the current term for a specific developmental disorder seen in both children and adults that comprises deficits in behavioral inhibition, sustained attention and resistance to distraction, and the regulation of one’s activity level to the demands of a situation including hyperactivity or restlessness. There are currently three subtypes of ADHD including Inattentive Presentation, Hyperactive Presentation, and Combined Presentation.
According to R. Barkley, a leading researcher in the field of ADHD, the predominant features of this disorder include impaired response inhibition, impulse control, or the capacity to delay gratification. These difficulties are often noted in an individual’s inability to stop and think before acting, to wait ones’ turn, to resist distractions while concentrating or working, and to work for larger, longer-term rewards rather than opting for smaller, more immediate ones. It also involves activity that is poorly regulated to the demands of a situation. Individuals with ADHD are noted to be excessively fidgety, restless, and “on the go.” Young children may engage in excessive running, climbing, or other gross motor activity; adolescents may be more restless than their peers; and adults may report a need to always be busy doing something and being unable to sit still. Poor sustained attention or persistence of effort to tasks often arises when the individual is required to complete boring, tedious, or repetitive tasks that lack interest to the person. Problems with completing routine assignments without direct supervision and being unable to stay on task during independent work are noted.
School-related problems of children with ADHD may include problems sustaining attention to effortful tasks, lack of attention to task instructions, poor test performance, deficient study skills, disorganized notebooks, desks and written reports, and a lack of attention to teacher lessons. Children with ADHD often disrupt classroom activities, and the learning of their classmates. Impulsivity may include frequent calling out without permission, talking with peers at inappropriate times, and becoming angry when confronted with reprimands or frustrating tasks. Students with ADHD are at risk for significant difficulties including academic underachievement, high rates of noncompliance and aggression, and disturbances in peer relationships.
A typical ADHD assessment involves administration of the following measures:
– A measure of intelligence using the WPPSI-IV (young children), WISC-V (children and teens), or WAIS-IV (adults)
– A measure of achievement using the WIAT-III
– Behavioral checklists (BASC-3, Conners)
– Computerized measures (CPT, CATA, IVA-AE-2)
– Measures of Executive Functioning (BRIEF)
– Measures of Neuropsychological Functioning (NEPSY)