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A Complete Guide To ADHD Assessment And Testing Methods

25/05/2022
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Many people who suspect that they have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) will look into getting an ADHD assessment. This comprehensive guide gives detailed information about the assessment and diagnostic process, as well as key facts about ADHD.

What is ADHD?

For someone just starting out on their ADHD journey, it’s important to understand exactly what ADHD is.

On a very simple level, ADHD is caused by low levels of certain chemicals in the brain that lead to ineffective communication across brain cells. This can create symptoms such as inattention and hyperactivity.

ADHD is a complex developmental disorder that is typically present from childhood. The severity and type of symptoms vary from person to person and symptoms can change over time. This is one reason why ADHD can be missed, especially in children who are high functioning; in a structured environment, a child may display more inattentive than hyperactive symptoms.

In the past, not much was known about ADHD; some people thought it wasn’t real and was just an excuse for bad behaviour, particularly in boys. Thankfully, the perception of ADHD has changed, awareness of it has increased and more and more people are coming forward for ADHD testing and diagnosis. It is now a recognised mental health condition and it is most definitely real!

ADHD can sometimes occur alongside other developmental disorders such as autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia. It is also common for people with ADHD to have comorbid depression, low self-esteem and anxiety conditions. Overlapping symptoms and identification of one or more of these comorbidities can cause misdiagnosis or a non-diagnosis of ADHD.

There are three categories of ADHD:

  • Hyperactive – when someone has symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity but not inattention
  • Inattentive – when someone has symptoms of inattention but not hyperactivity/impulsivity. (This was previously called ADD)
  • Combination – when someone has symptoms of both hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention

Our blog What Exactly Is Adult ADHD? explores this in more detail.

What Are The Main ADHD Signs and Symptoms?

As previously mentioned, ADHD presents itself differently in different people and no two people with ADHD are the same.
Common symptoms of ADHD in children are:

  • Struggling to concentrate, appearing to zone out or daydream
  • Not completing tasks
  • Poor recall
  • Difficulties following instructions
  • Not understanding rules
  • Slow at reading and writing
  • They may excel academically in certain subjects, but struggle in others
  • Academic and work performance doesn’t match ability levels
  • Excessive talking
  • Difficulties with sleeping
  • Finding it hard to sit still, relax or play quietly
  • Rapidly changing emotions, including a quick temper
  • Moving around constantly
  • Acting without thinking and unaware of the consequences
  • Interrupting people
  • Feeling anxious

More than 50% of children with ADHD will go on to have some residual symptoms in adulthood, which although similar will present in a different context due to differing responsibilities.

Here are some possible signs and symptoms of adult ADHD:

  • Feeling restless and frustrated inside
  • Struggling to maintain employment
  • Disorganised, forgetful and often late
  • Frequent feelings of frustration, guilt and blame
  • Difficulties maintaining relationships
  • Feeling stressed and worried about not meeting goals and responsibilities
  • Financial problems due to impulsive spending and lack of control over money
  • Periods of depression and/or anxiety
  • Rapid mood swings

What Are The Benefits Of ADHD Assessment?

Getting an ADHD assessment and diagnosis opens the door to treatment options that many people find to be life-changing. Also, a positive diagnosis of ADHD can bring about a sense of self-understanding and self-awareness that many previously undiagnosed adults find particularly beneficial.

Once diagnosed with ADHD, you will become much more aware of your symptoms and can begin to treat them. With the right treatment, many symptoms can be brought under control and allow you to live a better and more fulfilling life.

Getting an ADHD assessment and diagnosis opens the door to treatment options that many people find to be life-changing. Also, a positive diagnosis of ADHD can bring about a sense of self-understanding and self-awareness that many previously undiagnosed adults find particularly beneficial.

Once diagnosed with ADHD, you will become much more aware of your symptoms and can begin to treat them. With the right treatment, many symptoms can be brought under control and allow you to live a better and more fulfilling life.

Our blog ADHD: To Medicate Or Not To Medicate provides useful information about the different types of medication you can take. While medication is the most effective way to relieve or reduce ADHD symptoms, there are also a number of lifestyle adaptations that can help. Practical Ideas To Relieve ADHD Symptoms has some useful suggestions about how you can do this. This is particularly helpful for someone who is waiting for a diagnosis or for treatment to start.

How Do You Get an ADHD Diagnosis?

In the UK, there are two routes to obtaining a diagnosis of ADHD; you can do it either via the NHS or pay for a private ADHD assessment. While going through the NHS is of course free, it can come with a lengthy waiting list. It’s not unusual to hear about estimated times of 2-3 years. Obviously, this depends on where you live and a useful first step is often to visit your GP and find out what the situation is like in your area. Your GP will advise you of your options. In any case, it’s useful for your GP to be aware that you may have ADHD and any related problems.

Many people opt for a private ADHD assessment to avoid the long wait and to start ADHD treatments sooner.

If you decide to book a private ADHD test and assessment, you can start by:

  • Asking your GP or anyone that you may know with the condition for recommendations
  • Conducting an internet search for ‘ADHD Testing Near Me” or “Private ADHD Assessment”. Make sure that your doctor is a GMC registered Consultant Psychiatrist and has good experience in treating the condition.

In the modern online world, we are no longer limited by geography and while some people still prefer a face-to-face ADHD assessment, an online assessment for ADHD is increasingly common and offers you a better choice of ADHD test centres and specialists. A simple search for “Online ADHD Assessment” will come up with some options for you to choose from. Make sure that you understand the clinic’s procedure for the ADHD assessment and the ADHD treatments that they offer. Also be clear about the prices involved if you are keen to pursue treatment options if the ADHD assessment does result in a positive diagnosis.

How Is Adult ADHD Diagnosed? (ADHD Testing methods)

Accurate diagnosis is a crucial part of managing ADHD. There is no single medical test that can decide if a person has ADHD. There is no physical investigation such as a blood test or brain scan for Adult ADHD.

The gold standard for an ADHD diagnosis, as recognised by most leading health professionals and bodies across the world, is a structured clinical assessment for ADHD. This is based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), and is carried out by an experienced Consultant Psychiatrist.

At The ADHD Centre, all of our structured clinical assessments are conducted by an experienced GMC registered Consultant Psychiatrist in accordance with these DSM-V guidelines.

Please note that although ADHD can potentially be diagnosed by a qualified psychologist, onlу a Consultant Psychiatrist саn prescribe mеdісаtіоn.

Diagnosis is based on the number and frequency of the symptoms, how long they have been experienced by the patient and the degree of impairment that they are causing. These symptoms must also be causing impairment in multiple areas of your life for a diagnosis to be made. The clinician will also determine if some of these symptoms are affected by the often complex interplay of other coexisting conditions such as depression, anxiety and/or other developmental disorders.

At The ADHD Centre, an ADHD assessment will be carried out by one of our team of ADHD Specialist Consultant Psychiatrists. You will be asked to answer some standardised questionnaires that will be given to you beforehand. As well as the structured clinical assessment for ADHD, you will also be asked questions about your symptom history, developmental history (symptoms during childhood to adulthood), medical history, social and academic experiences, drug and alcohol abuse history, family and other aspects of your life.

How Is Child ADHD Diagnosed?

For child ADHD assessments, at The ADHD Centre, we use a specific diagnostic assessment tool called the Conners 3 to aid in the diagnosis of childhood ADHD. This is in addition to the structured clinical assessment with your Child and Adolescent Consultant Psychiatrist . It is widely recognised as the gold standard assessment tool for diagnosing ADHD in children and young adolescents according to DSM-5 criteria. Conners 3 has three components and requires sections to be filled in by a parent, teacher and child/adolescent (if appropriate).

It is important to get this collateral history, which then helps the doctor to get a better objective understanding of how your child’s symptoms of ADHD may have affected them throughout their development. At the end of the assessment, the doctor will discuss possible diagnoses and then devise an individualised treatment plan to ensure that your child receives the best possible care.

Once your treatment plan is in place and you are happy with your treatment, then we can help to facilitate a transfer of care to your GP.

Tips For Choosing An ADHD Test Centre

Here are some useful tips about ADHD testing and choosing a test centre:

  • Testing for ADHD should ideally be carried out by a Consultant Psychiatrist specialising in ADHD, who can then prescribe medication if appropriate.
  • ADHD testing should consider ADHD symptoms over the course of your entire life and not just your current circumstances. You will normally be asked to send information about yourself in advance of the appointment.
  • Consider what will happen after the assessment. Book your appointment at an ADHD test centre that provides evidence-based treatment options which include specialist coaching and supportive therapies as well as medication. Clients taking medication and specialist coaching have better results for overall and long-term symptom relief.
  • Check all the pricing in advance for the assessment and potential follow-up treatment.
  • Check with your GP what provisions there are locally and if they will accept a shared care protocol, once medication is stabilised.

Here is a useful guide about What To Look For When Booking An Online ADHD Assessment

ADHD Assessment At The ADHD Centre

Adult ADHD Assessment

At the ADHD Centre, we conduct ADHD assessments at one of our clinics in London or Manchester or via online appointment. All the assessments are with an experienced Consultant Psychiatrist who specialises in adult ADHD.
Our adult ADHD testing process:

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Complete some simple symptom checklist and registration forms

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The assessment will usually take 60 – 90 minutes to complete

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Walked through a structured clinical assessment for Adult ADHD which is based on the latest DSM-V criteria for Adult ADHD

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Receive a letter from your Consultant outlining any
diagnosis and treatment plan details

This is what our clients say about their experiences at The ADHD Centre:


Clare Chaffin

Law Student


James Bloodworth

Journalist and Writer

If you think you (or a loved one) may have ADHD, why not try our ADHD Quiz? This is a non-diagnostic quiz that gives an indication of whether you have ADHD or not, based on if you have some of the most common symptoms. It should not be used to self-diagnose.

If you choose The ADHD Centre for ADHD assessment and testing, then you will be guided and helped throughout the process and you will be provided with the support and active participation in your ADHD treatment and management plan. It is important to remember that it is never too late to get help for ADHD.

At The ADHD Centre we offer a range of evidence-based treatments; medication and ADHD coaching (including Mindfulness Coaching). We have been supporting people with ADHD since 2009 and have a team that includes some of the UK’s leading ADHD specialists. If you’d like to find out more about our ADHD assessment and testing methods, please contact us by telephone on 0800 061 4276 or by email at [email protected]

Free Resources

If you’d like to learn more about ADHD, you may find our FREE e-books useful. They are full of helpful information and advice.

Adult ADHD E-Book

Helping Children With ADHD To Thrive

Practical Tips And Techniques For Students With ADHD

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ADHD Centre in London
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ADHD Centre in Manchester
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We are a team of experienced Consultant Psychiatrists, Psychologists and ADHD Behavioural Coaches.

We have been diagnosing and treating people with ADHD since 2009.

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