Caleb Cook, 16, sits down at a laptop and puts the infrared sensor headband around his head. The next 15 minutes should be simple and even very boring. Click on the space bar when you see a black star of a certain shape. Don’t click on the space bar when you see a different star.
For people without attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the Quotient test is easy and boring. For people with ADD or ADHD, it’s hard to do because they cannot continue to focus on the test.
Caleb was first diagnosed with ADD in 2008 using the typical way of diagnosing ADD. He and his parents answered a series of questions with his doctor as well as gave anecdotal evidence. Now the Quotient test can measure if his current medication is working and if he continues to have ADD. (About 40 percent to 50 percent of children outgrow it.)
He came to the office of Dr. Arti Lal, a pediatrician at Scott & White’s Cedar Park West office who specializes in ADD and ADHD and is the first in Central Texas to use the Quotient test.
Layni Stanford, 6, was also taking the test to see how much ADD was affecting her school day compared with another child development disorder she’s been dealing with. The test will help her doctors come up with a medication plan for Layni, her mother, Meaghan Compton, explains. “Is it 6-year-old behavior, or is there something more going on?” she says.
The test is essentially the same whether you’re 6 or 55 (the age parameters it’s been approved for). An infrared sensor headband worn on the patient feeds information to a motion tracker mounted on the computer to track head movement. A person with ADHD or ADD will move her head more than a person without. The patient’s accuracy at reacting to the right stars will show how much attention she is able to sustain.
Since Lal started administering the test, some people who thought they had ADD or ADHD had it ruled out. They were borderline cases in which the typical tests weren’t as clear. If ADD or ADHD is ruled out, there could be another neurological issue going on such as depression or a learning disorder.
Other times, she has been able to alter the patient’s medication when it became clear the current medication wasn’t working.
The test doesn’t negate the more standard ADD and ADHD testing doctors do, but it should be considered another resource.
“It’s given us so much additional information,” Lal says. The test also can show how much of a deficit the patient is experiencing, which helps doctors pick medication types and amounts.
Most insurance companies cover the test, but it’s about a $100-$300 test if you don’t have insurance. You don’t have to be a patient of Lal’s to have her administer it and provide the results to your doctor.