Often difficulty learning or paying attention can be signs of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) or deficits in executive functioning, which encompasses skills such as organization, planning, problem-solving, and the ability to shift between tasks. These skills are important to success in school, work and at home. Deficits in these executive functions often occur alongside ADHD.
These types of struggles can also have other root causes, however, so ADHD/ADD and executive functioning deficit testing may be necessary to determine an accurate diagnosis.
Testing can also be useful to confirm diagnoses made by you or your child’s therapist, doctor, or pediatrician, particularly before starting medication for ADHD, or to determine if the ADD is severe enough to warrant medication. My goal in each testing case is always to provide my clients with a thorough evaluation to rule out other explanations for symptoms (for example, if anxiety were causing a child’s inattention) and reveal when interactions between different issues may be occurring. For example, thorough testing might uncover a situation where slow reading occurs only when both attention and a particular executive function are taxed at the same time.
Testing is generally required by schools and workplaces to document ADHD and its effects as well as to determine if any accommodations might be appropriate for you or your child. Common academic and occupational accommodations for ADHD include extra time on tests and exams at school or on work assignments; extended time on standardized tests (such as the SAT, GRE, AP exams, or Virginia Standards of Learning tests); use of a quiet place to study, take exams, or work; movement breaks; and use of special technologies (such as laptops or “smart pens”) to assist with notetaking.
Applying for Accommodations on Standardized Tests
Affordable Colleges: Scholarships for Students with Disabilities
Attention Deficit Disorder Association
Children and Adolescents with ADD (CHADD)
disAbility Law Center of Virginia
National Institutes of Mental Health: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center
Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
Special Education Guide
Virginia Assistive Technology System