Home » ADHD » Blogs » ADHD Millennial » Unconventional Questions for Diagnosing ADHD

Unconventional Questions for Diagnosing ADHD

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.

Doctor with obligatory stethoscope

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

Unconventional Questions for Diagnosing 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.

5 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2018). Unconventional Questions for Diagnosing ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 16, 2019, from


Last updated: 17 Aug 2018
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.