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6 Questions for Recognizing ADHD

A group of researchers have come up with a new version of the ADHD Self-Report Screening Scale, a short questionnaire designed to help people easily assess the possibility that they have ADHD.

QuestionnaireResearchers revised the questionnaire to fit with new criteria for evaluating ADHD introduced by the DSM-5, then used machine learning to figure out the optimal number and weighting of questions. If you want the gory details, you can see the original paper here.

The TLDR, though, is that the researchers ended up with six questions that, taken together, are reasonably accurate at predicting ADHD. The six questions are:

  1. How often do you have difficulty concentrating on what people are saying to you, even when they are speaking to you directly?
  2. How often do you leave your seat in meetings or other situations in which you are expected to remain seated?
  3. How often do you have difficulty unwinding or relaxing when you have time to yourself?
  4. When you’re in a conversation, how often do you find yourself finishing the sentences of the people you are talking to before they can finish them themselves?
  5. How often do you put things off until the last minute?
  6. How often do you depend on others to keep your life in order and attend to details?

These questions aren’t intended to “diagnose” ADHD, but if you consistently find yourself doing these things, it does mean it’s more likely that you have ADHD.

One thing to note is that the questionnaire isn’t designed to capture the essential features of what ADHD is “about,” and there are many ADHD symptoms not covered by these questions. The researchers just wanted to see if they could find a short list of practical questions that help sort out people who have ADHD from those who don’t.

As a result, some of the questions technically aren’t even asking about ADHD symptoms. For example, question six, about depending on others to keep your life in order, doesn’t correspond to any of the DSM criteria for ADHD.

But apparently, if you depend on others to stay organized while also frequently doing the other things on this list, you’re more likely to have ADHD. Which does make sense, since you can see how people with ADHD can easily become overwhelmed with organizational tasks and would therefore be quicker to rely on other people.

It’s important to keep in mind that this new questionnaire isn’t an absolute measure of whether someone has ADHD. But it can be a useful tool for assessing whether a further look is in order. What d’you think – do a lot of these questions seem awfully familiar to you?

Image: Flickr/Valier Everett

6 Questions for Recognizing ADHD

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2017). 6 Questions for Recognizing ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 7 Apr 2017
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