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New system measures attention shifts in children--aims to improve accuracy of ADHD diagnoses. (Medical Research Update).

A new screening method called OPTAx (OPtical Tracking and Attention test) can now measure the rate at which a child's attention shifts, according to data presented by Martin H. Teicher, MD, PhD, of Harvard Medical School, at the 154th annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in May. According to Dr. Teicher, the method's two components, a 15- minute challenge test of attention and supplementary video documentation of the child's head movements, may allow doctors to diagnose attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) more easily and accurately in children. The diagnoses can be more accurate, he says, because the camera used in this testing system is designed to detect the head movements characteristic of children with ADHD.

OPTAx can help clinicians differentiate between ADHD and other conditions with similar symptoms, says Dr. Teicher, such as anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He says, "Although most professionals feel that they're doing a good job at diagnosing and treating ADHD, parents and society perceive a need for more objectivity in ADHD testing. Some parents are concerned that the diagnosis is arrived at so quickly."

Another use of OPTAx is to determine with better precision how children with ADHD are responding to certain treatments. "When you have something that adds objective information," explains Dr. Teicher, "parents are very relieved. The test can show parents the severity of the problem and the degree of the child's response to medication. Conversely, the test will sometimes show parents that the child does not have ADHD."
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Title Annotation:OPtical Tracking and Attention test diagnoses attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
Author:Chamalian, David
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2001
Words:249
Previous Article:Familiar faces.
Next Article:Protein-rich blood at birth may presage the onset of autism and mental retardation. (Medical Research Update).
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