Myth: The existence of ADD can be determined by psychological and/or physiological testing.
Reality: According to CH.A.D.D., the major national organization which deals with ADD, there is no definitive test for ADD, not a pencil and paper psychological test, a computer test, a blood test, or an x-ray. PET Scans have documented certain changes in the ADD brain, but such expensive, experimental testing still is controversial and certainly is not necessary to make a diagnosis of ADD; the results of such tests have not been accepted in scientific circles as pointing the way toward which medications or other treatments are the best choices. Other tests, designed to measure impulsivity and distractibility, may provide additional information, but cannot by themselves render the diagnosis. Unfortunately, many people make a great deal of money from such testing, and most parents believe that they are supposed to “get the child tested” for ADD.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has listed 18 symptoms, such as difficulty listening, forgetfulness, frequent fidgeting, and a tendency to interrupt conversations and games, as indicative of ADD. The Academy suggests that at least 6 of the 18 symptoms must be present for diagnosis, and these symptoms must impair a child’s ability to function in at least two settings, such as home and school. Although modern brain imaging techniques have documented differences in the functioning of the ADD brain, scientists still have not decided what this information means or how it affects treatment. Reputable physicians diagnose ADD by taking a careful patient history and by observing the effects of treatment.