Assessments to Determine Hyperactive Disorder

What is Hyperactivity?

The individual may experience strong emotional reactions and impulsive behavior. It is common that he may also experience a short attention span. Though an individual may experience hyperactivity on a situation-by-situation basis, it may develop into a disorder when the symptoms become problematic.

Clinical Symptoms of Hyperactivity Disorder

According to the DSM-IV-TR, to diagnose hyperactive disorder, six or more of the following symptoms of hyperactivity must persist for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level: often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat, often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected, often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness), often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly, is often "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor" or often talks excessively.

Implications of Hyperactivity Disorder

Symptoms may cause impairment as early as before age seven and can be maladaptive in two or more settings (e.g. at work, school or home). To assess an individual, there needs to be clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, academic or professional functioning.

Primary Physician's Role

With regard to assessment, the American Academy of Pediatrics provides six guidelines:

The child's primary physician should conduct an evaluation for school-aged children presenting with any of the core ADHD symptoms, academic underachievement or behavior problems. The physician should systematically collect information from parents and teachers regarding core symptoms (using empirically supported ADHD-specific rating scales such as the Conners' Parent Rating Scale).

Psychologist's Role

After examination, the physician may refer the child to a psychologist licensed to assess the child with hyperactivity criteria published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). The psychologist may also assess the child by using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV) to see if the child has any abnormal functioning in school. Lastly, the psychologist should evaluate for coexisting conditions, with a specific emphasis on those that are often comorbid with ADHD (i.e., oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety disorders, mood disorders and learning disabilities). Hyperactivity is described as the physical state in which an individual is easily excitable or exuberant at an abnormal level. Some basic steps can be used to assess for hyperactivity disorder.