What Is The Conners ADHD Rating Scale?

By Dylan Buckley

Updated February 03, 2020

Reviewer Sonya Bruner

To some people, therapists might seem like magicians. Most can diagnose you with something simply by talking to you for a bit and can help you work through almost anything that you may be dealing with. However, these skills come from years of practice, training, and education so that they can properly identify and find solutions for a wide range of mental health issues and other life problems.

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However, therapists would not be able to accomplish this without valuable tools that help them to assess and diagnose the symptoms of various disorders if they are present within one of their patients. For example, for certain individuals who are exhibiting ADHD symptoms, your therapist may choose to utilize the Conners rating scale for ADHD.

This tool is typically geared towards younger individuals (although those towards the age cap of 18 may be diagnosed around this age as well) and is designed to help authority figures such as parents and teachers look for and determine if their child may be struggling with ADHD. Because these tests are designed for children and teens, however, parents may be concerned as to how accurate it is, how it functions, and what it means for their child.

If you have heard of the Conners rating scale in terms of you or your child's treatment, let's walk through exactly what the Conners rating scale is to get a better understanding of what role it will play in further treatment.

What Symptoms Might Hint At ADHD?

Before one might choose to consider using the Conners rating scale to help them determine whether or not a child has ADHD or other potential behavioral disorders, there must be a legitimate reason for why an adult would consider the possibility that their child may be dealing with this disorder.

ADHD has prominent symptoms that are categorized into two different presentations. The first type is the inattentive form of ADHD, which includes symptoms such as…

  • Forgetting important tasks and events (for example, forgetting things such as daily chores or doing homework)
  • Not truly listening when someone is talking
  • Not following directions and making careless mistakes during tasks that other people are paying attention to
  • Becoming easily distracted
  • Having problems keeping workspaces and tasks properly organized and prioritized (time management issues are typically present as well)
  • Losing focus during important tasks such as homework or chores and giving up
  • Losing or misplacing important things that are required daily and are extremely important
  • Avoiding or ignoring tasks that require mental focus as they can be unenjoyable to go through with

While inattentive symptoms are often present in children with ADHD, hyperactivity and impulsive symptoms may often be displayed as well and will include…

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  • Having a problem staying seated in school or at home
  • Displaying signs of having trouble waiting for their turn in an activity
  • Talking too much and having thoughts or conversations that are all over the place
  • Moving as though they are always full of energy or always onto the next thing quickly
  • Taking over activities or interrupting conversations and taking and using people's things
  • Cannot play or do things quietly or calmly
  • Running, climbing, or playing in areas where it is not appropriate
  • Blurting out responses and finishing sentences
  • Squirming and fidgeting or constantly playing around with hands and feet (unable to stay still)

Before you start seeking out different tests and scales to see if your child may have ADHD, you will first need to see if your child exhibits any of the behaviors listed above to justify seeking out treatment for the disorder.

The Next Step: The Conners Rating Scale

If you do end up believing that your child may have ADHD, you may be recommended to review your child's behavior using the Conners rating scale. Although this is not the only behavioral assessment that is recommended, it has been said to be effective and may be a useful tool in helping future specialists learn more about what symptoms your child has. The Conners Comprehensive Behavior Rating Scale (C-CBRS) is designed to help identify behavioral, academic, and social issues in children and young adults aged 6 to 18 and is commonly used as a tool to gauge ADHD in those who fall within this age group. While hyperactivity and impulsivity or inattentiveness can be found in this test, some other behavioral and mental health issues that can be evaluated through this test include…

  • Aggressive behavior and the potential to use violence
  • Difficulty with certain subjects (possibly pointing to behavioral issues or learning disabilities)
  • Emotional distress or self-esteem issues
  • Perfectionism
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Anxiety or separation anxiety
  • Issues keeping or making friends

The test itself comes in two different lengths and has several versions for different authority figures such as parents or teachers. The long version is a version that will typically be taken during the first evaluation of a child to better compile a list of behaviors and potential issues that stem from those behaviors. The short one is often used afterward to track a child's progress in those varying areas.

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The test itself has a scoring system of 0 to 3 for each of the questions regarding behavior. If behavior on the test is one in which a child never engages in, you would then say that the answer to the question is "never true," which would score them a zero on that specific question. If they engage in that habit frequently, you will put "always true," and you would score a three for that question. The other two falls in between the far extremes, and each question adds up to reveal an overall score.

One reason why you should consider this test if your child might have ADHD, however, is that this test is great at recognizing other behaviors besides ADHD, which can be helpful if your child has multiple mental health issues. Comorbidity, a term that describes a situation in which someone is dealing with side by side mental health disorders, is found to be higher in those dealing with ADHD and approximately 20 to 30 percent of patients have comorbid ADHD and depression diagnosis, while more than 25 percent will have a comorbid diagnosis of ADHD and anxiety. It is important to evaluate this possibility and the range of symptoms of your child to make sure that you are effectively tackling any disorders and issues present.

Using Your Conners Rating Scale Effectively

If you have managed to gain access to a test online or if a teacher has reached out to you to talk about potential issues with your child and has conducted a test of their own, you may be thinking that you can easily use the test on your own determine what your child may be going through and how to take care of it. While this may seem to be the common-sense course of action for some parents, it is important that you take whatever results and give it to someone with experience who can properly read the results and provide your child with the necessary help and course of treatment.

How can you start this process? The next best step is to reach out to a therapist who specializes in child psychology and who can speak more with your child to get an accurate diagnosis. However, a lot of parents know that this is easier said than done. Resources are not always available near you, or your child may not be able to form a strong enough relationship with the therapists close by to reap the benefits that therapy has to offer. Additionally, trying to find time in your schedule as a parent can be hard to do given all of the responsibilities crammed into your week.

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Once your child has completed testing, the best way to work around all of these barriers is to visit BetterHelp. BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that easily connects visitors to licensed therapists who specialize in a wide variety of practices. With this service, there is no having to worry about running out of counselor options, trying to move around your schedule to squeeze in sessions, or spending money and time on traveling to therapists around your area. All you have to do is find a time that works right for you with a counselor who can meet your needs and connect with them from the comfort of your own home. If this offer sounds perfect for your needs, click on the link above to learn more and connect with a counselor now!

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