adhd assessments

ADHD Assessments: What Parents Should Know

Kate KolskogAssessments Leave a Comment

Being a parent of a child with ADHD can be overwhelming without the right support. Your child might dart down the aisle and touch everything in sight, continue to roughhouse when it’s quiet time, or struggle to follow basic instructions and miss important details.

These telltale scenarios, especially with the ongoing stigma towards girls’ mental health, definitely feel overwhelming. But remember that you’re not alone. ADHD is one of the most commonly occurring childhood neurodevelopmental disorders. It’s so common that it affects nearly 1 in 21 people in Canada.1

So, if you suspect your child might have ADHD, it’s only natural to have questions and concerns about what to do next. When is it time for us to seek help? What does the assessment process involve, and how should we prepare? Understanding how ADHD is evaluated can help you handle it more confidently.

Here’s everything you need to know about ADHD assessments to support your child and family.

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD for short, is a mental disorder that affects both children and adults. It mainly affects a person’s ability to stay focused and control their impulses. ADHD also usually runs in the family – with a 35% likelihood that one of the parents also has the condition.2

It pays to know the signs of ADHD and how to manage the condition effectively. Here are the early symptoms that parents should watch out for:

  • Inattention: Children with ADHD can find it hard to stay focused on the tasks assigned to them or play activities. They might also make careless mistakes in schoolwork, have trouble following instructions, or don’t seem to listen well.
  • Hyperactivity: There’s a lot of fidgeting, tapping, and talking. A hyperactive child might have trouble sitting still during study time or while having meals.
  • Impulsivity: It’s common for ADHD kids to act without thinking. They interrupt conversations, have difficulty waiting for their turn, and might even randomly blurt out stuff.

Symptoms of ADHD start being very noticeable when a child starts school. Because of the structured environment of a classroom setting, requiring students to focus, be patient, and practice self-control, hyperactive kids really struggle.

This transition really brings out these behaviours, making it easier to identify potential signs of ADHD.

When Should an ADHD Assessment be Performed?

A child usually shows symptoms of ADHD as early as four. Those who are younger might be harder to assess because of their rapid developmental changes, and the same goes for teenagers. This is why parents should seek a mental health professional for an ADHD evaluation as soon as the symptoms start showing at home or at school.

Emotionally healthy families recognize the need for their children to be evaluated. They understand how important it is to address these developmental concerns early on to support their child’s overall well-being and success, especially in the future.

What to Expect During an ADHD Assessment

The evaluation for ADHD can be conducted at Supporting Wellness offices in Calgary, Cold Lake, or Red Deer. The assessment process has several steps to make sure that there’s a comprehensive understanding of the child’s behaviour and symptoms.

Initial Consultation

The evaluation starts with a thorough conversation with the parents. Possible questions might include:

  • When did you first notice your child’s symptoms?
  • How do these symptoms impact their daily activities and school performance?
  • Are there any specific situations where the symptoms have worsened or improved?
  • Does your child have any other medical conditions?

About two-thirds of people with ADHD have or are more likely to develop other coexisting conditions like depression, anxiety, or other behavioural issues.3

Behavioural Observations

The child’s behaviour will then be observed, either in the office or through reports sent by teachers and caregivers. This helps to understand how the child interacts in different settings.

Questionnaires and Rating Scales

Parents, teachers, and sometimes the child will complete tests designed to assess how frequent and severe the ADHD symptoms are.

Review of Medical and Family History

The child’s medical history and family background will be reviewed. This identifies any possible genetic factors that might contribute to the symptoms.

The ADHD assessment can take up to three hours. This will depend on the child’s age and the specifics of the case. A full evaluation might take longer if the practitioner needs to gather more information. If more tests are needed to rule out other conditions, the entire process could take several days or weeks.

How Can Parents Prepare?

For the ADHD assessment to be accurate, you will also need to be prepared as parents.

  • Take note ahead of your child’s symptoms and behaviours across different settings for valuable insights for the evaluator.
  • Be ready to share your family history – medical records, past diagnoses, and other treatments.
  • Gather information from your child’s teachers and caregivers to know how they specifically do at school.
  • Cooperate with your healthcare professional and have their questions answered in as much detail as possible.

It takes some proactive steps, but you are your child’s strongest advocate, and your involvement in the whole process is needed for their success.

A Diverse Team of Mental Health Professionals at Your Service

We can’t deny that having a kid with ADHD can feel daunting. But taking the steps to understand what to expect – and having them assessed properly – is a healthy way to show your support for your child’s journey towards better health.

Remember, you’re not alone on this journey. Supporting Wellness Psychological & Family Services is committed to providing comprehensive mental health care through a multidisciplinary approach, whether you’re in Calgary, Cold Lake, Red Deer, or anywhere else with our online services.

Contact us today to see how, together, we can help your child thrive and reach their full potential.


  1. Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada (CADDAC),
  2. ADDitude,
  3. Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD),

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