What is Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a Neurodevelopmental diagnosis, with symptoms that begin during childhood and can persist across the lifespan.  Not everyone with ADHD presents in the same way. There are three clinical presentations or sub-types that fall under the broad umbrella of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), based on 18 core symptoms.

ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Presentation

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in their work
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or fun activities
  • Has difficulty listening when spoken to directly
  • Has difficulty following through on instructions and fails to finish work
  • Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Avoids, dislikes or reluctant to engage in work requiring sustained mental effort
  • Loses things necessary for tasks or activities
  • Is easily distracted
  • Is forgetful in daily activities

ADHD Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Presentation

  • Fidgets with their hands and feet or squirms in their seat
  • Leaves their seat in situations in which seating is expected
  • Seems restless
  • Has difficulty engaging in leisure activities or doing fun things quietly
  • Seems to be “on the go” or “driven by a motor.”
  • Talks excessively
  • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
  • Has difficulty awaiting turn
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others

ADHD Combined Presentation

  • Elevated symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity are present

Common Challenges with ADHD

While each individual with ADHD is unique, some common challenges associated with ADHD can include:

  • Difficulty getting started on tasks or assignments
  • Difficulty staying focused and seeing tasks through to completion
  • Challenges with planning, organization, and time management
  • Frequent task switching; starting many things and leaving them unfinished
  • Underestimating how long tasks will take, losing track of time
  • Procrastinating, and rushing to complete tasks at the last minute
  • Difficulty managing responses to stress or frustration (i.e., concerns with self-regulation)
  • Difficulty prioritizing tasks or meeting deadlines
  • Difficulty knowing where to start or feeling overwhelmed
  • Academic or workplace underachievement
  • Acting or making decisions without carefully considering the consequences
  • Interrupting others during conversations, lectures or meetings
  • Frequent losing or misplacing, difficulty maintaining organization with personal belongings

When to Consider an ADHD Assessment

Individuals pursue ADHD assessments at various ages and life stages, for a variety of reasons:

  • Are you (or your child) struggling with focus, sustained attention, or impulsivity?
  • Has your child recently been diagnosed with ADHD, and you see similar traits in yourself?
  • Are you a mature student and requiring an updated ADHD assessment for post-secondary accommodation?
  • Are you struggling to complete tasks and demonstrate your potential in the workplace?
  • Has your child’s teacher identified challenges with their ability to follow routines, complete independent work or use class time effectively?
  • Is there a history of academic or employment underachievement?
  • Are you (or your child) struggling to complete academic or workplace tasks with efficiency?
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed with daily tasks and responsibilities and feeling unsure where to start?
  • Do you struggle to build structure and routine in your day?
  • Does your child require frequent support and reminders to complete daily routines, chores or responsibilities? 

A comprehensive ADHD assessment can be an important first step in the journey towards effective symptom management.

The ADHD Assessment Process

A comprehensive assessment involves collecting information in a variety of ways, from a number of sources. 

Steps in the ADHD Assessment Process

  • Initial Intake Appointment
  • Diagnostic Clinical Interview
  • File Review (review of academic records and any previous assessment reports)
  • Completion of Questionnaires and Rating Scales
  • ​Scoring and Interpretation​ of results
  • ​Integration of Assessment Information
  • Completion of an Assessment Report
  • Feedback Meeting to review the Assessment results and recommendations

Understanding the Assessment Outcome

Once the assessment is complete, we meet for a feedback appointment. At this appointment we will review the assessment results together, and you will be provided with a copy of the assessment report. 

The goal of this session is for individuals to ask questions, understand the assessment outcome and leave with a clear plan for navigating next steps.

Understanding what ADHD is (and what it is not) is an important first step in understanding how it is most impactful in daily life and learning to manage core symptoms more effectively. I offer psychoeducation as part of every ADHD assessment, to support clients to understand their ADHD diagnosis.

The Importance of a Comprehensive Assessment

The core symptoms of ADHD are just one piece of the diagnostic picture and often, what prompts the assessment process is when a parent, spouse, teacher or the individual themselves recognizes the impact that symptoms are having on daily functioning. 

The symptoms of ADHD often become most impactful during times of change or transition, when the expectations placed on an individual increase, and their attention profile impacts their ability to demonstrate their potential. This can happen at various ages and life stages based on a number of factors, including:

  • Intelligence/Problem-solving skills
  • Academic skills
  • Social Skills 
  • Family and Social Supports
  • Learning and Workplace environments
  • Personal Interests
  • Coping strategies, and many more 

Because the impact of ADHD symptoms can vary from person to person, and can overlap with other diagnoses, taking a detailed history and collecting information from a variety of sources are important aspects of a comprehensive ADHD assessment.

Strength-Based Approach

My strength based approach to assessment is grounded in the belief that personal growth and positive change come through learning. I work extensively with youth, parents, adults and families to:

  • Understand the assessment outcome
  • Develop a clear intervention plan
  • Connect with appropriate resources

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the assessment process take?

ADHD Assessments require approximately 6-8 hours of billable time to complete and are generally completed over a 2-4 week period. At the initial interview, we will develop an assessment plan and establish a timeline that works for you.

What are the Assessment Costs?

Assessment hours are billed at an hourly rate of 220.00 (in alignment with the PAA fee schedule).

Coverage Information

If you have extended health care coverage, a substantial portion of the fees may be covered.

I am a registered Alberta Blue Cross and Blue Cross Medavie service provider and offer direct billing to these insurance providers.

What Happens After the Assessment?

The Feedback Meeting is the final step in the assessment process, but it is just the beginning of next steps. 

At the conclusion of the assessment, individuals are provided with comprehensive recommendations, strategies and resources to help navigate next steps. 

Follow-up sessions are available if questions arise as individuals move forward with their intervention plan. 

Are ADHD Assessments completed in person, or online?

I offer both in person and virtual assessment appointments for individuals throughout the provice of Alberta. Many clients choose a hybrid approach of in person and virtual sessions, that best fit their schedule. 

What ages are ADHD assessments offered for?

ADHD assessment services are offered for school aged children, adolescents and adults

I completed a screening questionnaire online, is this effective for diagnosing ADHD?

Screening tools are helpful in determining if you (or your child) present with symptoms that are consistent with ADHD, however, they are not diagnostic in nature. A comprehensive assessment involves taking a detailed history (i.e., diagnostic clinical interview), collecting information from multiple perspectives (i.e., parents, teachers, spouses, self-reports), the opportunity for direct observation of behaviour, as well as completion of questionnaires (i.e., screening tools) and standardized rating scales. A detailed history is essential in evaluating other factors (i.e., mental wellness, physical health) that might be contributing to current challenges.