Search Here...

ADHD, schools and the role of objective data

Published: 04 Aug 2021 | QbTest , expert insight , Objective Testing

Michael Walsh is a Clinical Nurse Specialist for HSE South and South Wexford Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, with extensive experience working with patients being assessed and treated for a range of mental health and neurodevelopmental conditions including ADHD.

He explains how the QbTest report can enhance schools’ understanding of patient symptoms and how that can affect them in the classroom. Additionally, Michael explains how he and his team have streamlined their pathway utilizing QbTest as an opportunity for clinical observation.


How can the QbTest help support the schools understanding of a patient's ADHD symptoms?

Michael Walsh: "The QbTest report has been especially useful in supporting our work with schools, in particular with younger children. Before the pandemic, we would typically schedule school observations for patients, with permission from the parents, which would help us better understand the impact of a patient’s symptoms in the school environment.

Sometimes teachers don't recognize symptoms of ADHD; more often the inattentiveness or the impulsivity goes unnoticed. The teachers might report back that the student jumps up from their desk, is disruptive or they're not focused on what they're supposed to be doing. When you show the teacher the report and what it shows it is like a flashbulb moment for them, where that students' challenges suddenly make sense. It’s useful to be able to show the patient (and all those involved in supporting them) their symptoms in black and white on the report.

Teachers have found the report useful in terms of medication too. For some medications, they can wear off around two or three o'clock, and teachers become more attuned to when their student’s attention may start to fade. We can run a QbTest with patients at those times to see more clearly the impact of the medication wearing off. Understanding the impact of this can be important when considering how best to manage the class timetable and incorporate movement breaks and other suitable adjustments".


QbTest for observation

"When you're running a QbTest with a patient you also get a chance to observe their behavior, you might see that their foot is moving rapidly under the desk, their hands are moving or you see that, towards the end of the task, there's a lot more movement - they're getting more and more fidgety.

Such observations are useful; we can also get an idea of how the patient handles minor distractions, for example if there's a knock-on a nearby door or the distant ring of the doorbell or something like that, this could explain a skew on the graph - it's important for us to record these observations to add context to the QbTest report. By recording the time when these things occur in the task helps us identify the corresponding point on the graph; you can look at the report and say that's when the doorbell rang for example".