Attention Deficit/Executive Function Evaluations

The DSM-5™ defines ADHD as a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development, has symptoms presenting in two or more settings (e.g. at home, school, or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities), and negatively impacts directly on social, academic or occupational functioning. Several symptoms must have been present before age 12 years.

Overview of the DSM-5™ medical classification system for ADHD

  • A persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development
    • Six or more of the symptoms have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is inconsistent with developmental level and that negatively impacts directly on social and academic/occupational activities. Please note: The symptoms are not solely a manifestation of oppositional behavior, defiance, hostility, or failure to understand tasks or instructions. For older adolescents and adults (age 17 and older), five or more symptoms are required
  • Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present prior to age 12 years
  • Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms are present in two or more settings (e.g. at home, school, or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities)
  • There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, academic or occupational functioning
  • The symptoms do not occur exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder and are not better explained by another mental disorder (e.g. mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, personality disorder, substance intoxication or withdrawal)

Inattention: Six or more symptoms of inattention for children up to age 16, or five or more for adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level:

  • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.
  • Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
  • Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
  • Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
  • Is often easily distracted
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities.

Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: Six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity for children up to age 16, or five or more for adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of hyperactivity -impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the person’s developmental level:

  • Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
  • Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
  • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).
  • Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
  • Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
  • Often talks excessively.
  • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
  • Often has trouble waiting his/her turn.
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

Individuals with ADHD may present with both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity, or one symptom pattern may predominate. Three presentations of ADHD are commonly referred to: combined-type, inattentive-type and hyperactive/impulsive-type. According to the DSM-5™ classification system, the appropriate presentation of ADHD should be indicated based on the predominant symptom pattern for the last six months.

Combined Inattentive Hyperactive/impulsive
All three core features are present and ADHD is diagnosed when ≥6 symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity and ≥6 symptoms of inattention have been observed for ≥6 months Diagnosed if ≥6 symptoms of inattention (but <6 symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity) have persisted for ≥6 months Diagnosed if ≥6 symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity (but <6 symptoms of inattention) have been present for ≥6 months

Attention Deficit Disorder falls under Other health impairment in terms of special education eligibility and services. Other health impairment means having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette Syndrome; and adversely affects the child’s educational performance.

Components of ADD/ADHD Evaluation

  • Assessment of cognitive abilities.
  • Academic achievement assessment
  • Executive Functions assessment
  • Behavior rating scales/checklists to collect data about the frequency and intensity of behaviors of concern

ADD/ADHD Evaluations are done in conjunction with Marc A. Caplan, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist. Testing will meet the criteria established by the New Mexico Administrative Code;however, the Local Educational Agency Multidisciplinary Team has the authority to make the final decision regarding eligibility and need for specialized instruction.

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