What is the nature of ADHD?
ADHD is a disorder that is neurologically-based, meaning people who have it are born with it. That being said, you can also develop symptoms of ADHD following traumatic brain injury.
There are three diagnostic subtypes of ADHD: inattentive, hyperactive, and combined type. Because ADHD is expressed through your individual personality, each person has a unique version of ADHD. Skilled clinicians do not simply diagnose you with ADHD. Rather, they put your ADHD into the context of your personality. 10 people with ADHD are 10 very different people. ADHD falls along a spectrum from mild to severe. Most often, people do not recognize they have ADHD until high school or college.
Reasons to consider an ADHD evaluation:
- problems staying focused on what needs to be done
- struggle to be productive due to distraction or procrastination
- regularly daydreaming, zoning out, or being overly-talkative, even when work due
- can only focus on things that are extremely interesting or stimulating (music, video games)
- trouble remembering what has already been learned
- impulsivity, restlessness or hyperactivity
- trouble doing homework, even if you know how to do it
- difficulty focusing on conversations
- only able to focus when highly stimulated, such as with video games or athletics
- high emotional reactivity
- regularly misplacing or losing everyday items such as keys, wallet, phone, etc.
- not being able to motivate yourself to do mundane, necessary tasks, or tasks that lack structure or “due dates”
- struggling to keep up with personal hygiene, such as brushing teeth or showering, due to lack of motivation
What does an ADHD assessment clarify?
- which of the three types of ADHD you have, if diagnosis is applicable
- the severity of your ADHD symptoms
- what other problems (insomnia, anxiety, depression, trauma, etc.) you have that are contributing to the ADHD
- what combination of evidence-based treatments will help you the most
- what natural resources you can use to minimize the need for medication
- any accommodations you may need in school or at work to maximize success
- what learning techniques will help you effectively learn
- how ADHD interacts with your general personality characteristics
- how to use your predominating personality characteristics to combat the ADHD
What are the hidden realities of ADHD?
After conducting research and practicing in the trenches for over 20 years, we want to share some “insider information” about the camouflaged realities of ADHD:
- You can qualify for the diagnostic symptoms of ADHD, but those symptoms can be driven by another diagnostic condition (e.g., Anxiety) or life problems (e.g., major work conflict) that is hidden under the surface
- Some of the most common, but hidden, problems that can cause ADHD include trauma, poor sleep, depression, anxiety, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Many people who have PTSD, trauma, or learning problems are misdiagnosed as having ADHD.
How do we go beyond generic ADHD diagnosis?
Many clinicians narrowly focus on ADHD diagnosis and and forget that your experience of ADHD is individualized to your unique personality. Using our personality-focused diagnostic model, we focus on helping you clearly and confidently grasp exactly how ADHD is affecting you, and what personality strengths you can use to combat the ADHD.
Read Dr. Brunner’s blog: Great psychological assessment goes far beyond diagnosis.
How do we assess ADHD?
Very methodically and carefully. Too many healthcare practitioners make you feel like you are on a conveyor belt, where you receive a “drive-by” evaluation. We offer you the opposite experience. We build into our assessment system numerous checks and balances to ensure our ultimate diagnosis is accurate. After having evaluated over 1,000 people in the last 20 years, we know there is an incredible amount of misdiagnosis. Read my blogs below for more information.
What are the elements of our assessment process?
- Methodically gathering historical information the following categories: family history, birth, development, medical, neurological, educational, learning, emotional, behavioral, social, and academic or work performance
- Asking you to create a chronological timeline of important events to ensure we understand the life of the person being evaluated as a series of different stages. This is critical to get a nuanced, in-depth understanding for the person we are evaluating
- Reviewing this information together during the intake appointment, and beginning to develop hypotheses that we will scientifically review by collecting data.
- Interviewing the people who have the most intimate knowledge of the day-to-day functioning of the person being evaluated. Unlike practitioners who only collect information from the person being evaluated, or only their parents, we believe that collecting this additional perspectives is vital to establishing a confident and credible diagnosis.
- Choosing a tailored group of measurements that include self-report questionnaires, intelligence or cognitive tests, and personality measures that identify your predominating characteristics
- Rigorously testing different hypotheses designed to play devils advocate to test our perception of the situation, and following up with questions to either the person being evaluated or those who know the person best.
- Writing a report tailored to the exact needs of the situation. We specialize in customizing your report to address different situations, such as the need for workplace or educational accommodations.
- Conducting a feedback meeting in our conference room where we use a dry erase board to visually show you the important factors causing the problems the person being evaluated is experiencing. We call this our cognitive map, and it serves as a user-friendly roadmap. You can take a picture of and always have your roadmap with you for guidance.
- During the feedback meeting, we clarify the diagnostic conditions at play, the non-diagnostic but critical factors contributing to problems, and give you bullet-point, user-friendly recommendations, organized into thematic groups. We clarify what professionals can best serve you, and save you the most money and time.
- After this feedback meeting, we follow-up with you to make sure that our work has met your expectations, and/or to provide further consultations to make sure our work is resulting in the life changes you are seeking.