In psychopharmacology you met Katie, an 8-year-old Caucasian female, who was brought to your office by her mother (age 47) and father (age 49). You worked through the case by recommending possible ADHD medications. As you progress in your PMHNP program, the cases will involve more information for you to sort through.
For this case, you see Katie and her parents again. The parents have reported that the medication given to Katie does not seem to be helping. This has prompted you to reconsider the diagnosis of ADHD. You will consider other differential diagnoses and determine what information you need to accurately assess the DSM-5 criteria to make the diagnosis of ADHD or another disorder with similar diagnostic features.
When parents bring their child to your office, they may have read symptoms on the internet or they may have been told by the school “your child has ADHD”. Your diagnosis will either confirm or refute that diagnosis.
Katie’s parents reported that their PCP felt that she should be evaluated by psychiatry to determine a differential diagnosis and to begin medication, if indicated. The PMHNP makes this diagnostic decision based on interviews and observations of the child, her parents, and the assessment of the parents and teacher.
To start, consider what assessment tools you might need to evaluate Katie.
The parents give the PMHNP a copy of a form titled “Conner’s Teacher Rating Scale-Revised” (Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/projects/gap/cgi-bin/GetPdf.cgi?id=phd000099.1 ). This scale was filled out by Katie’s teacher and sent home to the parents so that they could share it with their provider. According to the scoring provided by her teacher, Katie is inattentive, easily distracted, makes careless mistakes in her schoolwork, forgets things she already learned, is poor in spelling, reading, and arithmetic. Her attention span is short, and she is noted to only pay attention to things she is interested in. She has difficulty interacting with peers in the classroom and likes to play by herself at recess.
When interviewing Katie’s parents, you ask about pre- and post-natal history and you note that Katie is the first born with parents who were close to 40 years old when she was born. She had a low 5 minute Apgar score. The parents say that she met normal developmental milestones and possibly had some difficulty with sleep during the pre-school years. They notice that Katie has difficulty socializing with peers, she is quiet at home and spends a lot of time watching TV.
You observe Katie in the office and she is not able to sit still during the interview. She is constantly interrupting both you and her parents. Katie reports that school is “OK”- her favorite subjects are “art” and “recess.” She states that she finds some subjects boring or too difficult, and sometimes hard because she feels “lost”. She admits that her mind does wander during class. “Sometimes” Katie reports “I will just be thinking about something else and not looking at the teacher or other students in the class.”
Katie reports that her home life is just fine. She reports that she loves her parents and that they are very good and kind to her. Denies any abuse, denies bullying at school. She offers no other concerns at this time.
Katie’s parents appear somewhat anxious about their daughter’s problems. You notice the mother is fidgeting with her rings and watch while you are talking. The father is tapping his foot. Other than that, they seem attentive and straight forward in the interview process.
MENTAL STATUS EXAM
The client is an 8-year-old Caucasian female who appears appropriately developed for her age. Her speech is clear, coherent, and logical. She is appropriately oriented to person, place, time, and event. She is dressed appropriately for the weather and time of year. She demonstrates no noteworthy mannerisms, gestures, or tics. Self-reported mood is euthymic. Affect is neutral. Katie says that she doesn’t hear any ‘voices’ in her head but does admit to having an imaginary friend, ‘Audrey’. No reports of delusional or paranoid thought processes. Attention and concentration are somewhat limited based on Katie’s short answers to your questions.