Childhood Symptoms of ADHD, Diagnosis and Brain Wave Testing

There are some ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to arrive at the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children.  Unfortunately, more often than not, children get diagnosed in the wrong way.  The fact is, there are specific criteria that need to be met so that a health care practitioner can claim that your child has ADHD.

How to Get An Accurate ADHD Diagnosis

These criteria include a detailed questionnaire to be filled out by everyone that spends a significant time with the child (ie. parents, teachers, other caregivers, etc.).  The child must show six or more specific symptoms of inactivity and/or hyperactivity on regular basis of more than 6 months AND in more than 2 settings. These symptoms must have been present before the age of 7 and have shown functional impairment in 2 or more settings.

If any of these are not being met, then the child may have other behavioral or social issues that can be appropriately addressed, but they don’t constitute evidence of ADHD.  Autism, Asperger’s syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) may be present.

diagnosing ADHDOften, teachers may indicate that they are having a hard time conducting their class because a child is misbehaving or is having a hard time focusing.  This leads them to asking you to take them to your pediatrician.  You make the appointment, the doctor asks you a few very brief questions about them being fidgety, inattentive, etc. and you’re off with your prescription for one of several ADHD drugs.


You don’t have to be a doctor or health professional to see that the proper protocol wasn’t followed.  It’s one thing when you’re talking about a minor cold or something where clinical experience can account for a lot. Clinical experience is still important, but this is a serious diagnosis and it can lead to your child being on drugs that are in the same class as cocaine, amphetamines and other class II narcotics.  You definitely want to make sure that a thorough assessment is made.

If you want to make sure that your child is in this category, insist on the proper and full procedures.  Then, if your child is diagnosed with ADHD, you have further decisions to make regarding their care.  Drug treatment options are known to cause serious side effects, like stunted growth, emotional and psychological changes and in some cases sudden cardiac arrest – this is when they are properly prescribed!  This is not to scare you, just to point out how serious the diagnosis is regarding this disorder.

At the time of this writing, there are also brain wave studies that are helpful in correlating with ADHD.  Without going into too much detail here, suffice it to say that these studies can be extremely helpful in understanding what is going on with your child.

How Do These Brain Wave Studies for ADHD Work?

ADHD DiagnosisBriefly, they are done to assess what types of patterns appear.  Our brains produce four main brave wave patterns: alpha, beta, delta and theta.  They all have unique characteristics and cycles.  These brain waves are all happening concurrently in our brains and in different areas.  One particular wave is just more dominant at any given time, depending on what tasks, focus, sleep state, etc. we are in.


It is recognized that certain ratios of some brain waves to another are helpful in correlating with an ADHD diagnosis.  Again, these findings are to be used in conjunction with your health care provider following the full protocol described above.

Specifically, a theta to beta brain wave ratio of 3:1 is considered within normal limits.  In children diagnosed with ADHD, this ratio is off, showing a much higher theta to beta ratio.  It has to do with your child’s ability to focus versus what their brain is able to process during those specific times.

What we’ve found is that as a child’s nervous system is more equipped to adapt to and cope with stress, it is better able to stay focused and on task.  The efficiency and plasticity of your child’s developing nervous system is why this is so important.  Gentle care, like the Network Spinal Analysis care we provide in our office has been demonstrated to create these types of changes.

Studies have shown that up to 70% of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms as adults.  This translates into 4% of the U.S. adult population – that’s roughly 8 million adults! Many adults go undiagnosed. For these reasons, it is important to make sure there are some changes made early on.

If you’d like more information regarding assessing your child in this way or you’ve read the studies or watched the shows regarding how chiropractic can help with ADHD, childhood asthma, allergies, infertility or conception and more, please contact us today to learn more.  Your child deserves to have every chance at expressing their full potential and we love helping families experience this.

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