Many parents are unsure how to tell the difference between ADHD and normal child behavior. ADHD affects approximately 9.5 percent of children ages 6-17, or 4.6 million school-aged children in the country. The prevalence of ADHD has caused it to be both over and under diagnosed in children. All children occasionally daydream at school, misbehave and act without thinking. But how do you know the difference between a typical case of ants in the pants and ADHD? A new test called the Quotient ADHD System is helping physicians around the country give parents a clear answer to this question.

Although evidence has shown that ADHD can be passed down in families, there is no genetic component that shows if a person has or does not have ADHD. Diagnosis is usually based on behavioral checklists and questionnaires about the child from parents and teachers. Testing for ADHD and measurement of the extent of ADHD symptoms in specific patients has been a challenge for doctors. Rating scales are prone to rater bias, and the answers can vary dramatically from mother to father and from parent to teacher. Fortunately, the new technology now available is an important addition to the ADHD testing process. The Quotient ADHD System gives physicians objective and accurate data to perform better assessments and guide treatment decisions.

The Quotient ADHD System was invented by leading ADHD researcher and director of the Developmental Biopsychiatry Research Program at McLean Hospital at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Martin Teicher. Noninvasive and computer-based, it is the first FDA-cleared objective test for ADHD. Conducted right in the doctor’s office, the Quotient test takes 15 minutes for children under age 13, and 20 minutes for adolescents and adults.

How does the Quotient ADHD System work?

The Quotient measures levels of hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity— the three main signs of ADHD. To take the test, the patient is seated at a kiosk and instructed to press the space bar when a random shape appears on screen but not when another random shape appears. The child’s inattention and impulsivity levels are measured through the number of correct and incorrect responses during the test. Children with ADHD are much more likely to have difficulty sustaining focused attention during the entire 15-minute task.

The child’s hyperactivity levels are measured through an infrared motion tracking system that measures any movement greater than one millimeter 50 times per second. Excessive movement and inability to sit still have been correlated with the symptoms of ADHD.

When the Quotient test is completed, the data is compared to children of the same age and gender. Within minutes of a test being completed, a comprehensive report can be reviewed. This report gives the doctor a clear and unique picture of each patient’s symptoms.

After a patient has been diagnosed with ADHD, the Quotient System helps determine the best treatment that individual needs to control personal symptoms. The Quotient System is used during a baseline assessment to measure the severity of ADHD symptoms. The patient can then be periodically reassessed at follow-up appointments after starting treatment to ensure that the treatment is working. If the patient’s Quotient test results do not improve, the doctor can adjust the treatment plan.

A Mom’s Experience with the Quotient System

The mother of a patient at Neurology and Neurophysiology Associates in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, recently shared the following sentiments: “My daughter struggled with schoolwork throughout middle school and high school. We took her to psychologists and psychiatrists, and worked with child study teams, but due to her charm, and, quite frankly, her gender, she was never considered to have ADHD. My daughter did not misbehave in class, and she was bright— she just didn’t get her work done.

With a great deal of tutoring and special concessions, my daughter made it through high school and was admitted to a good college. It was there, away on her own, that matters came to a head. When she failed all of her courses we insisted on her going to the neurologist to be tested with the new Quotient ADHD test we learned of. Our daughter tested off the charts for ADHD. Finally we had an answer for her problems.

Once on medications, my daughter turned her life around. Within the first month, she was receiving accolades at college, getting top grades on tests and e-mails from her professors telling her to keep up the great work. A retest on the Quotient showed she had improved on the scales. She is now working with the school to redo that lost semester.

After ten years of underachieving, my daughter is now the person she was meant to be, and we couldn’t be prouder or more relieved. I’ve recommended the Quotient test to every parent I know who is concerned about this. My older son tested positive but my younger one did not, and in both cases it provides reassurance that we needed to make the right choices.”

HIPPA regulations require that the privacy of patients be protected. Due to this, the mother has chosen not to have herself or her daughter named.

Finding a Doctor

The Quotient System is currently being used in more than 100 doctors’ offices in the United States. Visit for a list of physicians using the test near you.

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