Your Child's ADHD Assessment: What to Expect

The Center for ADHD at Cincinnati Children’s provides information so you will know what to expect in an ADHD assessment.

Who Will Conduct The Evaluation?

Your child will be evaluated by clinical pediatric psychologists who specialize in the assessment and treatment of ADHD. Advanced trainees in clinical pediatric psychology may also be involved in aspects of the evaluation, under the supervision of the attending psychologist.

What Is Involved In Evaluating Children and Adolescents for ADHD?

Initial intake procedure: When you call our office to set up your first appointment, we will set up an account on, a web-based system for collecting information from parents and teachers about a child’s day-to-day functioning at home and school. (For families without internet access, these materials will be mailed for completion and return). The questionnaires requested (either through the website or by mail) need to be completed by you and your child’s teacher before we can schedule an appointment.

If a psychologist, neurologist, physician or any other professional has previously evaluated your child, send us a copy of the report either with the returned information packet or on the day of your initial appointment. If there is any other information, such as report cards or teacher notes, that you feel would be helpful for us to better understand your child, bring them to your initial appointment.

Diagnostic interviews with parents and children: The entire diagnostic interview process is completed over the course of two sessions.

The psychologist will spend the first hour-long session meeting with you (the child’s parent) to get an in-depth understanding of the concerns you have about your child.  You’ll discuss your child’s current functioning and early development. The second session, which depending on your child’s age may last 30-50 minutes, is spent interviewing your child to assess how well he or she understands the difficulties they are experiencing at home and school.

Feedback appointment: After the parent and child interviews are completed, we will schedule an appointment to give you feedback on the findings of our evaluation. You are encouraged to take notes during this session, and you will receive a written report documenting our findings and recommendations at this feedback session. We will be glad to provide feedback to your child’s physician, teacher or other professionals if you request it and provide written authorization.

A Final Word

This process may seem very detailed and time consuming, but it is necessary to conduct a thorough evaluation for ADHD. Depending on the results of your child’s evaluation, several additional services may be recommended, including:

  • Referral to your physician for medical management
  • Parent training for dealing with behavior problems often exhibited by children and adolescents with ADHD
  • Teacher consultations concerning behavioral and academic concerns in school and / or individual therapy to deal with issues related to coping with ADHD

Frequently Asked Questions

The Center for ADHD provides answers to frequently asked questions about ADHD assessment.

While many pediatricians and family physicians (especially those participating in the ADHD Collaborative with Cincinnati Children’s) are knowledgeable about and comfortable with evaluating patients for ADHD, they may not be able to provide this service because they don’t feel they have the time or adequate training. Also, some children with ADHD are complex and have other problems as well, so they need a more thorough evaluation.

A pediatric / clinical child psychologist has the training needed to carefully assess behavioral and attentional data collected directly from the client, as well as information collected from parents and teachers. This data is used to determine whether problematic behaviors are due to ADHD or to some other condition. 

So we can observe your child’s behavior without interference from any medication effects, we strongly prefer that your child not be on medication the day of the evaluation appointment. Discuss this with your child’s prescribing physician and get approval. Depending on the medication your child is taking, it may be necessary to stop the medicine more than 24 hours before the appointment.
Exactly what to say depends in part on your child’s age and experience with mental health providers. It is generally important to assure the child that this evaluation involves only talking and does not involve shots or a physical examination. Children also usually need to hear that the purpose of the evaluation is to find ways to help them and is not meant to punish them.
In most cases, your child should be involved in the feedback process if at all possible. Exceptions to this are made for very young children or if the parents have strong objections. What will work best for you and your child will be discussed at the end of the first evaluation session.

The evaluation is covered by most health insurance policies as a mental health expense. Depending on your policy, you may be responsible for a deductible and / or copayment. 

When you call to arrange for an evaluation, a customer service representative will ask you for some information about your health insurance and will contact you to discuss the coverage your insurance company provides.

Call the Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology at 513-636-8107 at Cincinnati Children’s to begin the evaluation process.