Charles D. Weinstein, Ph.D.: Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) typically is diagnosed by age seven (1st or 2nd grades). Core symptoms include persistent inattention, distractibility, restlessness, inability to complete tasks independently, low frustration tolerance, forgetfulness, boredom, and impulsivity. Additional symptoms can include weak planning and organizational skills.

ADHD is a clinical diagnosis. With children and adolescents, a typical evaluation includes an interview with the parents or care providers, gathering a developmental history, collecting behavioral data from the parents/care providers and teachers, meeting with the child/adolescent, and administering a computerized test which measures attention, impulsivity, and processing speed.

Individuals with ADHD are at higher risk for having learning disabilities. Sometimes symptoms of learning disabilities mimic ADHD symptoms. A thorough evaluation should consider a psychoeducational assessment which evaluates an individual’s cognitive, academic, and emotional functioning in a comprehensive manner.

ADHD is a lifelong condition. Adults may not have been diagnosed as children, and their symptoms may be negatively affecting their lives. These individuals should be evaluated using the procedures outlined above. In the case of adults, gathering information from individuals who knew them as children is very important, but not always possible.

The primary treatment for ADHD is medication. Stimulant medication has been prescribed for years and has proven effective. Curently there is a nonstimulant medication which has been prescribed with some effectiveness over the past two years. Behavioral management also plays a role in the treatment of ADHD. However, behavioral interventions by themselves are rarely effective. The key to effective treatment of ADHD with medication is a thorough assessment with an accurate diagnosis. If an individual has additional diagnoses, stimulant medication may not be appropriate.

Visit the following links for organizations with specific information and resources regarding ADHD:

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)