What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a neurodevelopmental condition, meaning it develops alongside brain development during childhood. ADHD is often associated with, or co-morbid with, other neurodevelopmental conditions such as dyspraxia, dyslexia, Tourette’s syndrome, and what are generally referred to as autistic spectrum disorders. These conditions can easily mask or counteract some of the more obvious symptoms of ADHD, and an experienced clinician will be well aware of this.

In addition to being a neurodevelopmental condition, ADHD in adults is commonly linked or co-morbid with mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. In these cases, the underlying ADHD may have been masked for years by the associated problems it has caused.

Recognised Sub-types of ADHD

Hyperactive – Typically associated with impulsive behaviour and the perceived lack of control in children, leading some to dismiss the diagnosis as merely bad behaviour or the result of poor parenting. Hyperactive behaviour often becomes more manageable as a child progresses through adolescence, evolving into generalised restlessness and/or irritability. This may explain the former belief that ADHD only occurred in children, a notion disproven over the last 20 years.
Inattentive – Now more commonly referred to as ADD. Individuals with this subtype primarily experience difficulties staying focused and attending to daily, mundane tasks without getting distracted, often moving from one activity to another or becoming bored quickly. In children, this subtype is frequently overlooked as the resulting behaviour—daydreaming, inattentiveness, and underachievement—can be mistaken for laziness or even praised as imaginative but unfulfilled potential.
Combined – As the name suggests, this subtype involves a combination of inattention and hyperactivity. This is likely the most accurate description for the majority of people with ADHD, as they exhibit a spectrum of behaviours. Each of these behaviours, in isolation, might be considered quite “normal”, but when combined, they lead to a diagnosis of ADHD.

Common Perceptions and Misunderstandings about ADHD

The widespread perception of ADHD as simply involving badly behaved boys causing disruptions in class significantly influences how many parents and teachers respond to a diagnosis, or even the suggestion of seeking an assessment for their child.

This perception focuses on the most visible symptoms of ADHD, which can be most pronounced in young boys. Girls, both young and older, can also have ADHD, but they are less likely to be diagnosed. This is partly because their difficulties can be more subtle, or ‘masked’ and partly due to historical biases. Current statistics show that ADHD is diagnosed in boys two to three times more often than in girls.

An assessment for ADHD in the UK typically involves several steps and includes input from various professionals. Here’s what you can expect:
Referral: The process often begins with a referral from a GP, teacher, or other healthcare professional. If you suspect ADHD, either in yourself or your child, you can discuss your concerns with your GP, who can refer your local NHS service. Alternatively, independent, self-funded routes are also available, and often accessible sooner. If you would like to explore self-funded assessment, please fill in the contact form and we will contact you with 24 hrs.
Questionnaires and Rating Scales: You may be asked to complete questionnaires or rating scales to provide detailed information about behaviour and symptoms in different settings. As part of the assessment, questionnaires will also be sent to gain information from others, such as family members, or teachers, as appropriate. Commonly used tools include the Conners-4 Rating Scales and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).
QB Test: The QB Test (Quantified Behaviour Test) is a computer-based assessment that measures attention, impulsivity, and activity levels. It involves performing a 15–20-minute task on a computer while wearing a headband with an infrared sensor that tracks movements. The results provide objective data that can support the diagnostic process and help differentiate ADHD from other conditions. This will be conducted by a specialist at our offices in Kidderminster.
Interviews and Observations: The specialist assessor will conduct a face to face structured interview and may observe behaviour in different settings, such as at home and school. These interviews can include discussions about developmental history, current symptoms, and the impact of these symptoms on daily life.
Multi-Disciplinary Team Input: A multi-disciplinary team, including psychologists, speech and language therapists, nursing, and specialist teachers, may be involved in the assessment to provide a comprehensive understanding of the individual’s needs.
Diagnosis: After gathering all the necessary information, the lead Clinical Psychologist will determine whether the symptoms meet the criteria for ADHD as defined in the DSM-5 or ICD-10/11. Any co-existing conditions or influences will also be considered at this time.
Feedback and Treatment Plan: If ADHD is diagnosed, the specialist assessor will provide feedback and discuss a treatment plan. This may include behavioural strategies, educational support, lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, medication. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled to monitor progress and adjust the treatment as needed.

The assessment process can vary depending on individual circumstances and local NHS services, but these steps provide a general overview of what to expect during an ADHD assessment in the UK.


For more information or to make a referral please see our contact page.