Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Evaluation and Treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
How is ADHD diagnosed?
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder includes a predominantly inattentive type, a predominantly hyperactive type, or a combined type. It is commonly referred to as ADD or ADHD. We use the general term ADHD to refer to any of these three types of disorders.
ADHD is more complicated to diagnose than many other psychiatric disorders. There is not a specific test that can determine the diagnosis. Rather, diagnosis is made by taking a comprehensive history over time, including input from significant others and formal written or computer assessments.
Diagnosis is likely to take some time and money but can be worth it if you have been struggling with symptoms that are affecting your performance in school and other areas of your life. Other conditions may have symptoms that look like ADHD or occur along with it. A thorough assessment can help find those other disorders as well.
I have not been diagnosed, how can I be tested for ADHD?
If you are looking for formal ADHD testing, you can schedule an appointment with a psychologist in the community. If you are diagnosed with ADHD, the provider who makes the diagnosis may be able to provide some treatment and make additional referrals.
See the Community Provider Locator and search under Testing-Psychological, Testing-Neuropsychological, or Learning Disorder Assessment for specific providers.
Make sure to check with your health insurance company to see:
- If they cover testing
- What they will cover
- Which providers they cover
Does CAPS test for ADHD?
Penn State Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is not able to honor specific requests for ADHD testing and does not perform the extensive evaluations required to assess qualification for academic accommodations. From time to time in the context of other counseling work, a CAPS counselor may recommend a brief screening for ADHD which can help a current CAPS client know if further testing is warranted.
Does CAPS provide treatment for ADHD?
CAPS provides short-term mental health treatment, which may include medication for students who are determined in the course of treatment at CAPS to have an ADHD diagnosis. ADHD is a developmental disorder that may persist into adulthood, requiring long-term care. CAPS offers a community provider locator and referral services for individuals needing longer term support by a community provider for counseling, coaching, and/or medication.
I have been diagnosed with ADHD, how do I receive medication?
If you are already being prescribed medication by a provider at home, consider asking if they would be willing to continue to manage the medication if you schedule visits when you are home during breaks.
University Health Services
If you have never been prescribed medication or, if continuing with a previous provider is not possible AND you have been tested and have a formal report by a qualified provider, a provider in University Health Services may be able to prescribe a medication for ADHD. This may be possible if ADHD is your only mental health disorder. To find out if a University Health Services provider can treat you, contact University Health Services, tell them your diagnosis and that you have an assessment report and you will be scheduled with the Case Manager to assess your eligibility.
Local Psychiatric Provider
If you have not had formal testing and/or you have another mental health disorder that needs treatment (i.e., depression or anxiety) then it is best to seek care from a psychiatric provider in the community. In addition to medication, it is usually best to work with a therapist on behavioral strategies when first being treated for ADHD.
I have been diagnosed with ADHD. How do I get assistance with my class work?
Student Disability Resources provides reasonable accommodations and services to students with disabilities. The process for accommodations takes some time and requires thorough evaluation and documentation.
Penn State Learning offers tutoring, workshops, and guided study groups.
Check with your local college or department to see if other tutoring options are available.
Are there low-cost options for testing or treatment of ADHD?
Options to pay for testing are limited but you may qualify for help through one of the following:
- Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (OVR)
- State College Veterans Administration (VA) Clinic - services are available if you are a veteran
- Centre County Mental Health Base Service Unit: (814) 355-6782
How can I find out more about ADHD?
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP )
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
- Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA)
- Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD)
- Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD)
- Barkley, R. A. (2010). Taking charge of adult ADHD. The Guilford Press.
- Ratey, N. (2008). The disorganized mind. St. Martin's Press.
- Tuckman, A. (2009). More attention, less deficit: Success strategies for adults with ADHD. Specialty Press, Inc.
- Zylowska, L. (2012). The mindfulness prescription for adult ADHD: An 8-step program for strengthening attention, managing emotions, and achieving your goals. Trumpeter Books.