I’m 51 years old, and just finished Sari Solden’s book “Women with ADD.” As I was reading it, I kept thinking “that’s me, that’s me!” I definitely fit a majority of the symptoms related to ADD without HD. I am planning to follow up with my family practitioner, but had this question: Is it consistent with ADD/no HD to be a good listener?
A friend of mine whose mother and a brother were diagnosed with ADD told me that there was no way that it applied to me, as I’m too good of a listener. (Other people generally describe me as a good listener, also.) Thanks — I realize you may not be able to answer, but it’s always worth a shot.
I’ve learned over the years not to rely too heavily on a particular symptom being characteristic of AD/HD in any one person. Many with AD/HD are poor listeners because of their distractibility, but others may be good listeners or good organizers or good list-makers and still have AD/HD.
AD/HD as defined by DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatry – revised in 1994) has three subtypes: Primarily Inattentive/distractible; Primarily Hyperactive/impulsive; and Combined Type. You may have the primarily Inattentive with the core symptoms of inattention and distractibility. In order to be diagnosed with this type AD/HD, you must have 6 of the following 9 symptoms that have persisted for 6 months or more and to a degree that interferes with functioning:
- often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
- often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks
- often doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to
- often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish chores or duties in the workplace
- often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
- often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as paying the bills or taxes, or balancing the checkbook)
- often loses things necessary for tasks
- is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
- is often forgetful in daily activities
If you have six or more of these symptoms and meet other criteria for the diagnosis then you may have AD/HD – Inattentive Type. Your next step is to seek out a physician or mental health professional with expertise in diagnosing AD/HD in adults (especially women). You may also want to take the self-report scale (SASI) listed on this site under the “Members Only” Section to help delineate others ways in which your AD/HD is affecting you. Bring this form to share with the professional who is attempting to make the diagnosis.
AD/HD is diagnosed based on history and current functioning. There are no tests (available at this time) to prove that you do or do not have AD/HD, but a complete physical examination, family history, personal interview, and the use of rating scales can help a professional make the diagnosis. Testing can be helpful to evaluate exactly how your AD/HD affects cognitive functioning as well as to assess coexisting conditions such as anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities that so often accompany AD/HD.
AD/HD is a very treatable disorder and taking time to get a diagnosis and appropriate treatment can make all the difference between living a satisfying and successful life or one with many “bumps and failures” along the way.
Best wishes as you learn more about yourself!