The diagnosis of ADHD includes children or adults with either predominant difficulties with Inattention, or Hyperactivity and Impulsivity. There is a third group that includes those with a mixture of the two types. The diagnosis is made by a clinician (Psychiatrist, Paediatrician, or Clinical Psychologist) following the criteria laid down by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version 5 (DSM-V).
The essence of this disorder is a neuropsychological difficulty with organizational skills (such as time management) and emotional regulation (such as frustration tolerance). These impact on social, family and interpersonal relationships, school and work environments, and create emotional and behavioural difficulties.
Since there may be a number of possible underlying causes for any of these symptoms, it is important that assessment is made by a clinician trained rule out similar but alternate problems. This process is referred to as a differential diagnosis. Especially with children, it is advisable that a neuropsychological and educational assessment is completed, since there is a high rate of comorbid learning difficulties, especially difficulties with written expression, as well as the ability to recall instructions.
Treatment may involve either medication (prescribed by either a Psychiatrist or a Paediatrician) or behavioural management, focusing on the underlying neurodevelopmental issues (working with suitably experienced Clinical Psychologists).