Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - Diagnosis & Treatment

How is ADHD diagnosed?

If you suspect that your young child (preschooler and below) has ADHD, you should arrange for an evaluation by a specialist such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, speech pathologist or developmental paediatrician.

There is no specific test for ADHD. Making a diagnosis will likely involve:

  • Medical examination, to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms
  • Establishing if there is a family history of ADHD or other mental health disorders
  • Discussions on the following:
    • When the symptoms started
    • Where they occur
    • How the symptoms affect your child's and your family's day-to-day life
    • If there have been significant events in your family, such as death or divorce

How is ADHD treated?

Treatment for ADHD is usually focused on minimising the symptoms and helping your child cope with day-to-day life. It does not seek to cure the condition.

ADHD can be treated using medicine or therapy, but it's best to use a combination of both. Changing your child's diet and nutrition may also help to reduce the symptoms of ADHD.


There are 5 types of psychostimulant medications that may be used to treat ADHD:

  1. Atomoxetine
  2. Dexamfetamine
  3. Guanfacine
  4. Lisdexamfetamine
  5. Methylphenidate

These medications balance chemicals in the brain and stimulate the brain to help it to focus. It aims to help your child:

  • Feel calmer
  • Be less impulsive
  • Concentrate better
  • Learn and practise new skills


Therapy can be useful in treating ADHD and additional co-existing conditions, such as anxiety disorders or depression. Recommended therapies include:

  • Psychoeducation, where you or your child discuss ADHD and its effects. It can help your child understand the condition better which can positively impact how they cope with it.
  • Behaviour therapy, using a system of rewards to encourage your child to control their ADHD.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), to change the way your child thinks and behave.
  • Parent training and education programmes, to teach parents and caregivers:
    • Specific and effective ways of talking to a child with ADHD.
    • Games that can help improve the child's attention and behaviour.
  • Social skills training, where role-play is used to:
    • Teach your child how to behave in social situations.
    • Help your child understand how their behaviour affects others.
This page has been reviewed by our medical content reviewers.

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