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Tests for ADHD

On the surface, it seems as though diagnosing ADHD involves checking whether or not a child experiences hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. Unfortunately, ADHD is far more complex than that.  ADHD cannot be detected by a single test because a number of possible causes can trigger this condition.  A complete ADHD evaluation should involve a battery of tests beyond simple behavioral scales and checklists.  Here are some ADHD tests that we use to confirm the presence of this condition and figure out the best treatment for a child.

Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA)

TOVA is a unique computer program that measures the severity of a child's inattention and impulsive symptoms.  It is a 21-minute computer game that uses geometric figures to eliminate language and cultural differences. The child will be asked to spot or click on an infrequently appearing target to measure attention. The second part of the test will require the child to avoid clicking on certain targets.  This test measures impulsivity.  The scores of the child will then be compared to TOVA scores of non-ADHD children in his or her age group. 

TOVA is not only useful for confirming the accuracy of diagnosis. It also provides objective measurements of a child's symptoms and can help your doctor measure the child's response to treatments.

Quantitative Electroencephalography (QEEG)

QEEG is a brain imaging method that not only detects abnormalities in the brain structure; it can measure the functions of the brain by mapping out the brain wave activity.  Generally, children and adults with ADHD exhibit more alpha and theta waves, which indicates a state of relaxation, sleepiness, and daydreaming.  Although QEEG is a very useful diagnostic tool, it is also expensive and difficult to obtain.  QEEG is recommended only when basic treatments seem to show no effect. 

Nutrient element analysis

Did you know that deficiencies in certain nutrients can trigger ADHD and a number of other psychological conditions?  The brain requires steady amounts of specific nutrients in order to function well, and a lack in any of these nutrients may affect the performance of the nervous system.  A nutrient element analysis is a hair test that can measure the amount of nutrients in the body and can detect the presence of certain toxins.   This test is useful for determining appropriate dosages of food supplements or confirming the need for a detoxification program.

Urinary peptides

One of the most common yet overlooked causes of ADHD is opioid peptides. Opioid peptides are produced from the undigested form of two proteins – casein from dairy and gluten from wheat.  Although these two foods are practically staples of the modern diet, the human body has not yet evolved to digest these substances efficiently.  As a result, gluten and casein often remain in the intestines where they produce opioid peptides, which have a sedative, morphine-like effect on the brain. A urinary peptides test can determine whether undigested casein and gluten is responsible for ADHD symptoms, and whether your child will need a gluten-free casein-free diet as part of his or her ADHD management program.