One of my predictions for 2011 is that we will be inundated with new gadgets, gizmos, and diagnostic tests.
Sure enough, mid-January I got my first e-mail inviting me to a webcast about a “breakthrough test for ADHD called the Quotient® ADHD System.”
Today’s post will introduce the Quotient ADHD System, which can be used for ADHDers of any age. The system is manufactured and marketed by BioBehavioral Diagnostics Company, a private company in Plymouth Meeting, PA.
Have a seat…and don’t worry about sitting still!
In a nutshell, the potential ADHDer sits in a chair for 15 to 20 minutes (15 minutes for kids, 20 for ages 13 and up). A band with a reflector Bindi is strapped on your head (and one on each shin if you’re an adolescent or adult) and the machine measures how fidgety and distracted you are (or aren’t). Meanwhile, you’re madly clicking away whenever you see a certain graphic on the computer screen.
The Quotient ADHD system, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002, was invented by Dr. Martin Teicher at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA (McLean is a psychiatric hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School)
The system has been in development for over 15 years, is backed by research, and is said to objectively measure the level and severity of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity compared to other people of the same age and gender.
ADHD experts we know and love, like Dr. Ed Hallowell (co-author of Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction), are already using the Quotient Test at their clinics.
The Quotient Test is meant to supplement, not replace, other diagnostic tools such as the clinician interview, patient’s history, rating scales (lists and quantification of symptoms), etc.
If you’re thinking of getting this test, assuming it’s available in your area – PLEASE – make sure the clinician is knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced in using other diagnostic measures.
The cost of the test may vary, as determined by the practitioner using it. Also, the test is not yet available in every State, nor is it available in Canada.
To take or not to take the Quotient ADHD test
My natural skeptic awakened when I heard about this test, and I had lots of questions. BioBehavioral Diagnostics’ Executive Chairman, Byron Hewett, set me straight in our hour-long interview. Hewett certainly knew his stuff, and mentioned Dr. Russell Barkley’s work (Dr. Barkley is one of my fav ADHD gurus), familiarity with Quotient’s usage at Dr. Hallowell’s clinic, and – what really won me over – his personal interest in the efficacy of ADHD testing, through the experience of having a son (now 18 years old), who was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 8.
One of my concerns was that, when taking the Quotient test, someone like me who can be inattentive or easily distracted, might actually hyperfocus. I do this when I’m excited or highly invested in something, as I certainly would be if I shelled out cold, hard cash to include this test as part of my ADHD diagnostics. When I asked Hewett how the machine would calibrate for hyperfocus, he said:
“That’s a great question. The test is so repetitious and monotonous that, after 3 to 5 minutes, I don’t care how hyperfocused you are, you’re going to find this to be painful.”
I’m just a layperson and ADHDer…still…
Without a medical background, I’m in no position to judge the research of this tool, and certainly it sounded like some of it, at least, is fledgling. And I’m always skeptical when there’s the potential for a whack of cash to be made on something, as there certainly is here, but still – a lot of what Hewett told me seemed promising.
For example, he said that his company’s research shows that the test pulls out the core ADHD symptoms it measures, even when comorbidities may be present.
Also, said Hewett,
“We have a 94% negative predictive value. What that means is that if someone does not have the disorder, they are highly likely not going to be found to have an ADHD deficit on our test.”
According to Hewett, there is ongoing research to back up a small sample study done by the system’s inventor, Dr. Martin Teicher, that indicates that the test results accurately reflect the magnitude of the deficit that people experience in real life. In other words, to show that the test has “ecological validity.”
Hewett also points out that, when agendas clash, such as when a teacher might want a student medicated, and the parents don’t – the Quotient test results can provide objective, concrete evidence of a child’s ADHD symptoms.
Even when his own son was diagnosed, says Hewett, he didn’t believe it. So,
“When I heard about the Quotient Test I wanted to get my son tested immediately. I wanted to understand objectively what’s going on here. And it matters, because when my son was 14 he decided one day that he did not have ADHD, and therefore he stopped taking his meds.”
As typically happens, Hewett’s son’s grades then began to fall in school.
“It was at that point that we moved to get him tested, and of course, he could then see that, 1) he has the disorder; and 2) when he’s treated and he’s put on meds and then he’s tested again when he’s on medication, he could see that his performance on the test is much improved.
So now, as an 18-year-old in college, he’s accepted his diagnosis and he’s doing the things that he needs to do to manage his life more effectively.”
If any of you have experienced the Quotient® ADHD System, please write in and tell us about your experience.
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Last reviewed: 27 Jan 2011