Is It Time for a Full Workup?


My 15-year-old son is diagnosed with ADHD and Executive-Function Disorder. Despite numerous strategies set in place, he struggles more than most kids with social interactions, staying on task, self-regulating, etc. When does it make sense to do a neurological evaluation instead of just implementing strategies? What types of screening/tests would a neurologist do?

MS, Potomac, MD

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Lisa Rappaport, Ph.D

Lisa Rappaport is a neuropsychologist, specializing in the treatment of children with LD, ADHD, and developmental disorders. She is also an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Now is the time to have a full evaluation. I would suggest a neuropsychological evaluation with a Ph.D level psychologist and not a neurologist.

The best approach is to have the psychologist do a comprehensive evaluation. The psychologist will take a full developmental/educational/health/social-emotional history. After you provide a complete history, the psychologist will give your son a full battery of tests, which will include psychological (IQ) testing, educational testing, neuropsychological testing, and social-emotional testing. The latter will include behavior rating scales and questionnaires that will be filled out by you, your son, and possibly his teacher from last year.

This process will culminate in a lengthy report that will put together all the information gathered, including the symptoms you mentioned above (ADD, executive functioning, social interactions, self-regulation, etc.) to provide a diagnosis along with recommendations.

You will then meet with the psychologist to go over all of this information. Your son should also meet with the psychologist separately so the results can be explained to him, but without numbers and scores. His explanation will be articulated in terms of strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations.

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