ADHD is often diagnosed shortly after a child enters school. If you suspect ADHD in your child, discuss it with your pediatrician. Unfortunately, there are no specific medical or blood tests that can make the diagnosis. Instead, the diagnosis is made by a complete evaluation of a child's health, combining information obtained from a history and a physical examination, the observations of parents and others, and previous psychological testing, if available. The doctor may administer or arrange for further educational, psychological, and neurological tests and will talk at length not only with you and your child but also with your child's teacher. Your pediatrician will want reports on how your child does at play, while doing homework, and while interacting with both you and with other children and adults.
During these evaluations your pediatrician will rule out other conditions whose symptoms can sometimes mimic ADHD. Poor concentration, poor self-control, and over activity can be signs of many other conditions, including depression, anxiety, child abuse, neglect, family stress, allergies, hearing and vision problems, seizures, or responses to medication.
In many cases, there is a strong family history of difficulty with attention, impulsivity, concentration, or learning difficulties. Often the child's mother, father, or another close relative has a history of similar struggles when they were young. Gathering this information is helpful for the pediatrician in this evaluation process.