When doctors diagnose ADHD, they draw on several sources of information. These can include an interview with the patient, an interview with people who know the patient, a review of school records, and a round of neuropsychological testing.
I’ve always thought there were some other data points doctors could take advantage of, though. If I were evaluating you for ADHD, here’s what I’d ask you:
- Show me your library record. Having worked at a library, I’m aware that most library patrons don’t run up triple-digit fines. If someone consistently screws themselves over by failing to turn in books on time and never seems to learn, that’s a warning sign.
- Tell me how many times you’ve had to pay a penalty for filing your taxes late. Bonus points if the person realizes they’ve forgotten to file their most recent taxes when you ask this question.
- Do you remember my name? If they don’t, tell them. Then ask them the same question 15 minutes later.
- Would you prefer the long or the short version of our ADHD questionnaire? People with ADHD tend toward choosing a smaller reward sooner rather than a larger reward later (for example, see here).
I’m not suggesting these questions as a diagnostic gold standard. Obviously plenty people without ADHD also fail to turn their library books in on time, and plenty of people with ADHD would still prefer a longer, more accurate assessment. The point I’m trying to make is simply that signs of ADHD show up in a lot of different areas of people’s lives.
If you have ideas for some other unconventional ADHD diagnostic questions, please add them below!
Image: Flickr/Ilmicrofono Oggiono