Should You Trust an ADHD Self Test?

They are all over the web. It seems as though every time you turn around there’s another website offering you an ADHD self test to help you determine whether you or your child suffers from ADHD. These tests range from simple behavioral surveys to in-depth psychological profiles that require a dictionary to fill out, and each of them promises to help you make a self-diagnosis in an hour or less.

Are these tests for real?

Can they be trusted?

Or is the ADHD self test just another way for websites to drive traffic to their sites?

The truth lies somewhere in the middle between “Not to be trusted” and “The absolute authority on ADHD”. An ADHD self test that has been developed by a mental health professional or an individual familiar with the DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders) criteria for ADHD may be a reliable indicator that the individual or their child suffers from attention defecit disorder.

For example, look at the excerpt from an online ADHD self test shown below:

1. Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
2. Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities.
3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
4. Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
5. Often has trouble organizing activities.
6. Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
7. Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
8. Is often easily distracted.
9. Is often forgetful in daily activities.

The questions on this ADHD self test are directly off of the criteria used by psychiatrists and physicians to make an official diagnosis of ADHD when evaluating a child. For a complete listing, visit the official website of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) at [].

Keep in mind, however, that only a physician should make an official diagnosis of ADHD- especially if you’re talking about a child. An ADHD self test is unreliable, particularly for children, because it requires you to compare your or your child’s activities and attitudes against a developmentally appropriate idea of what is “normal”. When you’re discussing an adult it is fairly simple to say, “Yes, at my age I should be able to do this and I can’t.”

When working with a child, however, it can be much more difficult to determine what is normal and what is not with an ADHD self test. Some children are naturally high energy and have trouble sitting still. Others have other conditions that can contribute to their actions, or have problems at home that are making them act out. Children that were born prematurely, were abused or neglected as babies and toddlers or suffer from hearing or vision problems may mature at a different rate than their classmates and/or display many of these same symptoms.


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