Formal Diagnosis of ADHD



The formal diagnostic criteria used in most North and South America is the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th Edition. Europe, Asia, and Africa use the International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition. Each of these tools organizes the diagnosis slightly differently, but in both, the three major categories of symptoms are:


  1. Hyperactivity
  2. Problems with attention
  3. Problems with conduct


The Diagnostic criteria for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder from DSM-IV are:


Criteria A - either (1) or (2):


(1) six (or more) of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with the child's developmental level:


  1. often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in
    1. school
    2. work
    3. other activities.
  2. often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities.
  3. often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  4. often does not follow through on instructions and fails to
    1. finish schoolwork
    2. chores
    3. duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior)
    4. failure to understand instructions
  5. often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  6. often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)
  7. often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)
  8. is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  9. is often forgetful in daily activities


(2) six (or more) of the following symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with the child's developmental level:



  1. often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
  2. often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations in which remaining seated is expected
  3. often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings or restlessness).
  4. often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
  5. is often "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor."
  6. often talks excessively
  7. Impulsivity
    1. often blurts out answers before questions have been completed
    2. often has difficulty awaiting turn
    3. often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games).


Criterion B: Some hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms that caused impairment were present before age 7 years.


Criterion C: Some impairment from the symptoms is present in at least two or more settings (e.g., at school [or work] and at home).


Criterion D: There must be clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.


Criterion E: The symptoms do not occur exclusively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other Psychotic Disorder and are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).


The diagnosis is coded as:

314.01 ( Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type) if both Criteria A1 and A2 are met for the past 6 months


314.00 (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type): if Criterion A1 is met but not Criterion A2 is not met for during the past 6 months


314.01 ( Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type): if Criterion A2 is met but not Criterion A1 is not met for during the past 6 months




The difference between a subjective opinion and science 


No scientific validation other than this DSM-IV list is ever presented.  It is critical to restate the fact that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) voted ADD in as a “mental disorder” by a show of hands (majority vote) in 1980 at their committee meeting, without scientific evidence present. It was placed in the DSM-III (third edition).  In 1987, ADHD was voted in by a similar show of hands (majority vote) as well and placed into the DSM-IV (fourth edition).  Both committee meetings failed to produce and or demonstrate scientific evidence to support these disorders as brain malfunctions, diseases, chemical imbalances, neuro-biological conditions, illnesses; all of which are popular terms coined and marketed today.   






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