But between awareness, diagnosis, and treatment, there's one area that's not getting enough coverage: testing. People with ADHD symptoms are urged to seek out a diagnosis, but the way that diagnosis comes about is still a mystery to many. What happens when you make an appointment for an ADHD evaluation? And what kinds of tests will a doctor use to figure out whether you have ADHD?
In this guide, we'll cover all the essential information about ADHD testing so that when you're ready to take that step, you'll know what to expect.
How Do You Test for ADHD?
There is no one type of test that can "prove" that someone has ADHD. Although it causes actual differences in brain function, there's no physical way to test for it, such as an X-ray or a blood test. Instead, clinicians use different types of diagnostic processes to identify the symptoms of ADHD.
Complicating matters further is the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to test for ADHD. While there are certain frameworks that clinicians follow in ADHD testing, the actual procedures used may vary depending on a patient's circumstances.
For example, many adults with ADHD are diagnosed through a fairly simple and straightforward process involving some or all of the following steps:
- ADHD rating scales: An official ADHD assessment tool, such as the Brown Adult ADHD rating scale, Barkley Adult ADHD rating scale, or the Conners Adult ADHD rating scale, can be used to evaluate executive function impairments and other issues related to a possible ADHD diagnosis.
- Clinical interviews: The clinician typically has an in-depth discussion with the patient about their symptoms and behaviors. Sometimes, they also speak with the patient's loved ones (with the patient's permission) for more details and outside observations.
- Computer-based tests: Some clinicians may use computerized continuous performance tests (CPTs), which feature a series of visual and auditory cues to help measure a patient's attention and impulsivity.
Many of these same methods are used when testing children for ADHD. However, young patients are more likely to undergo additional neuropsychological testing which helps not only in determining an ADHD diagnosis, but also detecting any other emotional or learning problems which may be at play. Some of these neurological testing methods include:
- Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V)
- Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement (WJ-IV)
- Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration (Beery VMI)
- Wide Range Assessment of Visual Motor Abilities (WRAVMA)
- Delis Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS)
- Test of Written Language – Spontaneous Writing
- Sensory Profile
Who Can Diagnose ADHD?
It's important to make sure you meet with a qualified professional when seeking an ADHD diagnosis. Because ADHD symptoms can overlap with other conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and autism spectrum disorder, you want to make sure the specialist you see has the expertise to rule out other possible causes before making their diagnosis.
Some of the healthcare professionals who diagnose ADHD include:
- Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners
If you're not sure who to go to for an ADHD diagnosis, you can ask your primary care physician for a referral. Services like Done are also useful for virtual visits, especially since many specialists who can diagnose ADHD often have long wait times for in-office appointments.
Does Insurance Cover ADHD Tests?
If you have health insurance, there's a good chance that it covers ADHD testing. That's because most of today's insurance plans cover mental health. However, it's important to understand your insurance plan beforehand so you don't end up with surprise charges after your ADHD evaluation.
One important step to take when researching whether your insurance covers ADHD testing is to find out whether you need preauthorization for coverage. Some plans do cover testing, but only if it's approved beforehand.
Most patients want to stay in-network for their health care in order to minimize costs. That's a smart move, but it isn't always easy to do with ADHD testing and treatment. There is a shortage of mental health providers, which often leads to very long wait times to get an appointment. The good news is that you may be able to file an out-of-network claim and get reimbursed by your health insurance company.
Done is an affordable and convenient option for those who want to get tested for ADHD but don't want to wait months for an appointment. Many patients are able to get a consultation with a clinician who specializes in ADHD within a day or two. And if you do receive an ADHD diagnosis, Done's clinicians can help you find the right treatment and provide a prescription for medication. Get started with a simple online assessment today.