Phone: 9447 2000
Fax: 9447 2022

Dr Isabel Fernandez & Associates offers diagnostic assessments for children and adolescents“at risk of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Our assessments are conducted by highly qualified Clinical Psychologists and Clinical Psychologist Registrars with experience and expertise in recognising a range of attentional issues.

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or AHDH, is a medical condition. A child with ADHD has important differences in their brain development and brain activity that affects their ability to pay attention, sit still and apply self-control. The symptoms of ADHD can affect a child’s performance at school and their behaviour at home. It can also have a significant impact on their friendships.

It's not clear what causes the brain differences seen in children with ADHD. There is strong hereditary factor, as many children with ADHD have a parent or relative who has ADHD. Despite the many myths, it is important to remember that ADHD is not caused by too much screen time, poor parenting, poor sleep or eating too much sugar.

Could my Child have ADHD?

At some point, all children are faced with the internal struggle of paying attention, listening and following directions, sitting still, or waiting their turn. But for kids with ADHD, the struggles are harder and happen more often.

Children with ADHD may have signs from one, two, or all three of the following categories:

  • Inattentive. Children who are inattentive, or easily distracted, have trouble focusing their attention, concentrating, and staying on task. They may not listen well to directions, may miss important details, and may not finish what they start. They may daydream or dawdle too much. They may seem absent-minded or forgetful and lose track of their things.

  • Hyperactive. Children who are hyperactive are fidgety, restless, and easily bored. They may have trouble sitting still or staying quiet when needed. They may rush through things and make careless mistakes. They may climb, jump, or play rough when they shouldn't. Without meaning to, they may act in ways that disrupt others.

  • Impulsive. Kids who are impulsive act too quickly before thinking. They often interrupt, might push or grab, and find it hard to wait. They may do things without asking for permission, take things that aren't theirs, or act in ways that are risky. They may have emotional reactions that seem too intense for the situation.

Sometimes parents and teachers notice signs of ADHD when a child is very young. But it's normal for little children to be restless, impatient, or impulsive — these things don't always mean that a child has ADHD. Attention, activity, and self-control develop little by little, as children grow. Children learn these skills with help from parents and teachers. But some kids don't get much better at paying attention, settling down, listening, or waiting. When these things continue and begin to cause noticeable problems at school, home, and with friends, it may be time to assess for ADHD.

How is ADHD Assessed?

ADHD is a medical condition, which means only a Paediatrician can give a child a formal diagnosis of ADHD. However, to make a diagnosis of ADHD, a Paediatrician must follow strict criteria. Unfortunately, most of these criteria cannot be assessed in a Paediatrician appointment. For example, a Paediatrician needs to consider whether the ADHD symptoms; are present in more than one setting (i.e., both school and home); have caused significant impairment at school, home or socially; and are not better explained by another mental condition (i.e., learning problems, sleep problems, anxiety, mood disorders) or family circumstance.

In recognition of these diagnostic barriers, Paediatricians rely strongly on Psychologists to “do the leg work” and assess the necessary diagnostic criteria for them. With this mind, we have worked hard to streamline the process for both parents and Paediatricians. Our assessment for ADHD is comprehensive and addresses all the formal criteria for ADHD using the most recent and relevant assessment tools. Information is gathered from several sources, including schools, caregivers, and parents, and a range of cognitive, educational, socioemotional and behavioural assessments are included.

Will I be Provided a Diagnostic Report?

Following your child’s ADHD assessment, you will be provided with a comprehensive report that contains several sections including your child’s biographical, developmental and educational history, their cognitive and academic strengths and weaknesses, as well as their emotional and behavioural profile. Importantly, the assessment report will outline the evidence for, or against, a diagnosis of ADHD, specifically in regard to how your child meets, or does not meet, the diagnostic criteria. This report can then be taken to the child’s Paediatrician appointment for a formal diagnosis and medication/treatment review.

Will an ADHD Diagnosis help my child?

A diagnosis of ADHD is critical to ensuring a child gets the right treatment and improves. Treatment for ADHD usually includes a combination of medicine (activates the brain's ability to pay attention, slow down, and use more self-control) and behaviour therapy (help kids develop the social, emotional, and planning skills that are lagging with ADHD). In addition, parents can focus on learning the best ways to respond to behaviour difficulties that are part of ADHD. Lastly, school support can be provided by teachers to help children with ADHD succeed and look forward to school. With help, children with ADHD generally learn to improve their own attention and self-control by adulthood and medication is quite often reduced or eliminated completely.

Do I Need a Referral for my Child?

Young people are often referred for a comprehensive assessment by Paediatricians, General Practitioners, teachers and school counsellors. However, a referral isn’t a necessity, with many parents directly seeking an assessment for their child for a variety of reasons.

How can I have my Child Assessed?

If your child is experiencing difficulties at school or you feel an assessment might be helpful for your child, the first step is to book an Initial Parent Consultation. This appointment is an opportunity for you to voice any concerns you have for your child and it allows the Clinical Psychologist to closely review your child’s developmental, educational, and psychosocial history. This information is essential in the development of an assessment plan tailored to your child’s presentation.

Simply call Isabel Fernandez and Associates on (08) 9447 2000 to book an Initial Parent Consultation today and get the right advice for your child’s needs.

Perth WA