Your Child’s ADHD Evaluation

Every child who comes to the Center for Management of ADHD at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) receives an initial evaluation. The goals of this evaluation are to develop an understanding of your child’s strengths and challenges and to determine their primary treatment needs. This evaluation will include a comprehensive assessment of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and will screen for other emotional, behavioral and medical conditions. 

Scheduling an ADHD evaluation

When you call to schedule an evaluation with the Center for Management of ADHD, the intake coordinator will obtain initial information about your child over the phone. Afterward, you'll receive a packet including a parent questionnaire, parent behavioral rating scales, and a teacher behavioral checklist. Your parent and teacher forms must be received by our office before we can schedule your evaluation.

There may be a significant waiting period between your intake phone call and your evaluation appointment. This delay is due to several factors, primarily a national shortage of clinicians who focus on ADHD. The exact length of time you’ll wait for an appointment depends on the type of evaluation your child needs. It may be several months.

The intake coordinator will let you know the approximate timeframe in which your child may be evaluated. She will also discuss important things to do while you are waiting for an evaluation to help address your child’s immediate needs. You may be directed to helpful resources on our website.

Types of ADHD evaluations

Our intake coordinator will determine whether your child is appropriate for an:

  • ADHD consultation
  • ADHD and learning disability screening

This decision is based on a variety of factors such as your child’s previous evaluations, a review of parent and teacher forms, and your goals for the evaluation. You should be aware that there is a significantly longer waiting period for evaluations involving learning disability screenings.

If you are interested primarily in obtaining a learning or learning disability assessment and not an evaluation to determine ADHD diagnosis, it is recommended that you request evaluations through your child’s school district or request assistance from our intake coordinator to find providers in the community.

What will an ADHD consultation appointment include?

The purpose of an ADHD consultation is a behavioral health assessment to determine whether your child has ADHD and/or other conditions. It does not include intellectual or academic/learning testing, as such testing is not required to diagnose ADHD.

These evaluations include:

  • A one- or two-hour, face-to-face clinical interview with a psychologist or developmental pediatrician with you and your child. A developmental pediatrician specializes in the evaluation and management of children with developmental disabilities and behavioral disorders, including ADHD. If there is not sufficient time to gather enough clinical information during this consultation appointment, your provider may request an additional appointment.
  • Completion of parent and teacher behavioral and academic rating scales.
  • Review of previous medical, school and assessment records, if applicable.
  • Evaluations may also include a brief developmental assessment for young children.
  • Medication consultation by a developmental pediatrician, as indicated.

The consultation does not include:

  • Intellectual (i.e., IQ), academic/learning, or neuropsychological testing. Caregivers interested in these assessments may request more information from our coordinators.
  • School visits or observations.
  • Assessments by a psychiatrist, neurologist or neuropsychologist.

What will an ADHD evaluation and learning disability screening appointment include?

The purpose of an ADHD evaluation and learning disability screening is to determine whether your child has ADHD and/or another condition, and to conduct a screening for a learning disability (e.g., dyslexia, dyscalculia).

These evaluations include:

  • A one- or two-hour, face-to-face clinical interview by a psychologist with you and your child. If there is not sufficient time to gather enough clinical information during this consultation appointment, your provider may request an additional appointment.
  • Review of previous medical, school and assessment records, if applicable.
  • Referrals to a developmental pediatrician or psychiatrist for medication consultation, if indicated.
  • Brief screening of intellectual functioning and academic achievement.

The screening does not include:

  • Giftedness testing
  • Comprehensive intellectual, academic or neuropsychological evaluation
  • Brain imaging
  • Assessments for school entry
  • Speech/language, or occupational therapy assessments
  • School visits or observations
  • Assessments by a psychiatrist, neurologist or neuropsychologist

Waiting for an ADHD evaluation

Here are some important things to consider while waiting for your child’s ADHD evaluation:

  • Contact your child’s school counselor or school district and inform them that you are waiting for your child to be evaluated for ADHD at CHOP. While you are waiting, you can begin the process of determining if your child is eligible for interventions and accommodations at school by requesting an assessment for a Section 504 plan. A Section 504 plan will help identify accommodations and intervention that can assist your child in a school setting.
  • In some cases, your child may be eligible for special education evaluation. If so, this process can take up to 60 days for students in Pennsylvania or 90 days for students in New Jersey. If eligible for special education, your child will receive an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  • View our Resources page for information about ADHD management strategies for Educators and Parents. The site includes handouts, videos, and book recommendations.

ADHD follow-up services

Please note that due to individual patient needs and patient volumes our center, your child may not be able to be treated at CHOP, and referrals for treatment in your community may be provided.

Prepare for your first visit

Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment time to allow time for registration and assessment.

At least one parent or legal guardian must be present during the evaluation. Children will not be seen without a caregiver present. Unfortunately, we cannot provide childcare for siblings.

Please bring the following to your appointment:

  • If your child has any of the following, please bring:
    • A detailed list of your child’s medications
    • A copy of any IEP for school, report cards and/or legal custody document
  • Your child’s current insurance card

If you need to cancel your appointment, please provide at least 72 hours notice. Another family will be grateful for the appointment. Please be aware that if you arrive late for your visit or without required paper work, your appointment may be rescheduled.

Preparing your child

Visiting a doctor's office or hospital for any reason may be stressful for children of all ages. These tips can help you prepare your child for his visit, so he or she feels more comfortable about his or her upcoming outpatient appointment.

  • When describing the reason for your appointment, use simple words that your child will understand. For example, “We are going together to talk to someone about home, school and what you like to do for fun. We will learn more about what you are good at and what is harder for you so we can make things better for you.”
  • If your child is coming for an ADHD and learning disability appointment, tell them testing is a little like being in school. You can tell your child that he or she will be doing many different activities. Some activities involve listening and talking, while other activities involve looking at pictures, building things, and drawing. The most important thing to the examiner is that your child is encouraged to try their best.
  • If they are worried about receiving shots or other medical procedures, reassure them that this is not that kind of appointment.
  • If you do not know the answer to your child's question, tell your child that you don't know, but that you will find out.

Financial information

In most cases, insurance will cover the cost of Behavioral Health appointments and developmental testing. CHOP has insurance specialists who can help resolve any insurance issues. You should ask your insurance provider about what co-pays or deductibles you will owe at the time of your visit.

Directions and parking

Free parking is available for appointments at 3440 and 3550 Market Street locations. The entrance to the ground-level parking lot (white sign labeled CHOP Patient) is located just south of the intersection of 34th and Market Streets. When turning on 34th street, please make your first right into the parking lot. Additionally, free parking is available at the CHOP Specialty Care Center locations in suburban Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Results of ADHD evaluation

Depending on the type of visit your child has, the feedback may be given on the day of the evaluation or at a separate visit a couple of weeks later.

If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, we will give you information to help you learn about ADHD and ensure you are on the right path to helping your child reach his or her full potential. You will also be given a written summary of your child’s evaluation, which will include the clinician's diagnostic impressions and treatment recommendations that can be brought to school, the child’s pediatrician or treatment providers.

Please read about our treatment services or information about finding a treatment provider.

Next Steps
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