Screening for ADHD

The Learning and Wellbeing Team

ADHD or Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders first diagnosed in childhood. It is characterized by difficulty paying attention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. ADHD affects approximately 5.3% of children and 2.5% of adults. In other words, one in 20 children in every classroom in elementary and secondary school will have ADHD. While some children will “grow out” of ADHD, 50% to 60% of them will still have that diagnosis as adults.

There are three different types of ADHD. About 40% of people have the inattentive ADHD subtype characterized by poor concentration, being easily distracted and making careless mistakes, especially when a task is boring or difficult. About 25% have the hyperactive and impulsive ADHD type, characterized by often interrupting people, having a hard time sitting still and taking turns. And about 30% have the combined ADHD subtype, characterized by difficulties with both concentration and impulse control.


The screening quiz you are about to take is NOT designed to diagnose ADHD but to help you determine if you are at risk for ADHD and should ask for help. Only a healthcare professional, such as a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist can diagnose ADHD.

How screening tests work:

Screening tests, whether for ADHD, depression or anxiety, are not designed to diagnose mental illness. In fact, they cannot. Only a mental health professional, such as a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist, can make a diagnosis. 

Screening tests are an important tool that can help a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist reach a decision about whether or not you have a mental disorder or illness.  But, the results of a screening test are not enough. To be diagnosed with a mental illness you must experience (a) some kind of distress or elevated symptoms (e.g., some sadness, inattentiveness, anxiety, etc.), (b) which last for a number of weeks (or more), which (c) cause you some impairment (i.e., these symptoms get in the way of you living your life. It is a complicated and sometimes difficult decision, which is why the results of a screening test are never enough on their own to diagnose a mental illness. 

The test says I have symptoms but no diagnosis. What now?

Many, many more people will experience difficulties paying attention and focusing, especially if you are doing something that is hard or boring. Tuning out is not uncommon. In fact, research shows that, for most people, concentration will start to drop after just 20 minutes. And, if you are not used to sitting at a desk and tackling topics that are, perhaps, just actually very, very boring, then it is going to be difficult. 

There are a lot of things you can do if you are experiencing difficulties paying attention, whether or not you have symptoms of inattentiveness. Here are a few of the most effective strategies for boosting your ability to focus:

Relaxation breathing and mindfulness
Taking Pomodoro breaks to recharge (coming soon)
Putting your phone in a box, in your closet in a different room (coming soon)
Getting more sleep (coming soon)

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