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6 Adult ADHD Self-Assessments You Should Know About

Why are so many adults self-diagnosing their neurodivergence?

Between a lack of access and a lack of understanding - there are significant barriers to accessing ADHD or autism assessments. So what can we do about it?


Read more to find self-assessments and other starting points to validate your neurodivergent journey.




Getting an ADHD Diagnosis

What does getting an ADHD diagnosis look like?


Long story short, an ADHD diagnosis is essentially a judgment call on behalf of a qualified mental health provider. There is no single test to diagnose ADHD. It is a combination of questionnaires, childhood experiences, and family histories.


My personal experience was relatively straightforward compared to most late-diagnosed ADHD'rs.

I realized I had major signs of ADHD and brought that concern up to my therapist, who directed me to a local psychologist qualified to diagnose me.


At my first appointment, I took the IVA-2 Test of Attention. It is one of the few computerized tests that will gauge attention and distractibility. This test was miserable. It doesn't take very long but feels like a lifetime. The instructions are simple. Click the mouse every time you hear or see the number 1. Don't click it if you hear or see the number 2. That s it.


And I failed dreadfully.



I got my test results at my second appointment after we went over my current symptoms, childhood symptoms, and family history. As I was answering questions, I got a lot of "that makes sense" and "mmm-hmm" in response.


So it was no surprise when he told me my test results were considered "moderate to severe" in most categories.


I was lucky that I could get an appointment, receive a diagnosis, and access the appropriate medication pretty quickly. B t that is not the case for most of the clients that come to me for support.


Why is it so hard to get an adult ADHD diagnosis?

While we have a slew of issues with the healthcare system in the United States, the lack of access to diagnostics for neurodivergence appears to be a global issue. There are several possible reasons for why this might be. Here are a few.


Misinformation on ADHD


Stereotypes around what ADHD looks like can be really damaging for adults trying to get diagnosed. I is still commonly viewed as a condition only young boys experience. And many people, including medical professionals, believe it is something children grow out of.


There is also the misconception of what "hyperactivity" looks like. While you can be physically hyperactive (little boys bouncing off the walls), there is also mental hyperactivity. Mental hyperactivity happens to look a lot like anxiety. And anxiety tends to be the quick and easy diagnosis for women who are struggling.


Lack of Trained Professionals

ADHD is an extremely individualized condition. Symptoms show up differently in each person with ADHD. Most providers aren't fluent in how ADHD can present, especially in adults. In fact, adult ADHD symptoms weren't even in the DSM until 2013. Couple a lack of information with the above-mentioned misinformation, and it is difficult to find a provider who really understands this diagnosis enough to support giving one to you.


Comorbidity with other more common mental health issues

Several conditions often coexist with ADHD as well as mask or mimic the symptoms of ADHD. It is worth it at this point to bring autism into the discussion. An estimated 20-50% of children diagnosed with ADHD also meet the diagnostic criteria for an autism diagnosis. But autism can look like several more common conditions (especially in women) when the diagnosing provider isn't familiar with neurodiversity. 42% of women diagnosed with autism report at least one misdiagnosis before receiving their autism diagnosis. But that is worthy of a whole other conversation for another day.


Some common co-existing conditions (or misdiagnoses) include:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • OCD

  • Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Bipolar Disorder




Realistically this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you listen to the stories of late-diagnosed adults, their paths are riddled with diagnoses and treatments that, at a minimum, didn't work and, in worst-case scenarios, made everything much worse.


Hopefully, as more and more people speak up about their experiences, these difficulties will go away, and access to resources will replace them.


Final Thoughts On Self-Diagnosing Neurodivergence


I personally view self-diagnoses as a valid form of care. In the United States, not only do we have the above-mentioned barriers, but we also have a lack of access to health care. Healthcare, for better or worse, is a privilege that is becoming harder and harder to access, especially in the field of mental health. Waitlists for professional assessments can take years.

.

With that all being said, I feel it is important to note that if you can get a formal diagnosis, you should. This opens up access to resources and supports that you otherwise can not get.


But you do not need a formal diagnosis to work with me. If you identify with the struggles of the neurodivergent community and you are looking for tools to increase your self-efficacy and find your authenticity - you are welcome here.


Self-Assessments

Most of the linked assessments below are interactive online assessments. If they are assessments that you have to order, that will be noted. Because, let's be real - we have ADHD - we will lose interest long before we click that "order now" button.


ASRS

The first assessment and arguably one of the most common self-assessments would be the Adult Self-Report Scale (ASRS). This assessment was created by the World Health Organization to help adults decide if they may have ADHD.





SASI

While I think they could've landed on a better acronym, this assessment - the Self Assessment Symptom Inventory - is specifically for fem identifying adults.





BADDS

This is the Brown Attention Deficit Disorder Assessment Scale for Adults. They don't have an interactive online assessment available, but you can order the assessment here:



CAAS

Conner's Adult ADHD Rating Scales. While I appreciate that they just use the acronym ADHD, I'm not sure what one has to do to have an ADHD assessment named after their first name. This assessment is typically used by professionals in conjunction with the verbal histories mentioned above. But if you are really drawn to Conner's opinion of you - you can find that assessment here:



WURS


The Wender Utah Rating Scale focuses heavily on early childhood experiences and consists of 61 questions.



BIS-11

The Barratt Impulsiveness Scale has 30 questions focusing on impulsiveness.




I personally used ASRS and found that it accurately represented my experiences with ADHD.


Do you have any resources you've used? What was your ADHD journey like?

Let us know in the comments!




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