At The Neuropsychology Service, we have been keeping a data base of the referred clients (mostly children and adolescents). We are keeping track of 149 measures, mostly testing data, but also descriptors (2) of the referral questions and also up to two diagnoses from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
For this article, we examined data from 155 cases where “attention problem” was the primary reason for the referral (about 15% of the total number of cases). The DSM-5 primary diagnoses are listed below along with the associated percentages:
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder 51%
- Anxiety Disorder (GAD or Anxiety D/O, NOS) 28%
- Depression/Dysthymia 6%
- Learning Disability 5%
- Other (e.g., OCD, PTSD, Tourette’s) 10%
The data is revealing because 51% of people referred because of “attention problems” actually have ADHD as a primary outcome (DSM-5) diagnosis (so another diagnosis applies to the other 49%). This finding has implications for medication management, mental health support and school interventions.
This data cannot be considered a scientific sample. It represents cases referred to a clinical neuropsychological practice on the North Shore and the diagnostic framework used here. The data is also subject to the biases of the schools, medical professionals, therapists and parents who refer people to The Neuropsychology Service.