Is It Consistent with ADDno HD to be a Good Listener?

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.
JJ

DEAR JJ:

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:

  1. often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  2. often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks
  3. often doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to
  4. often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish chores or duties in the workplace
  5. often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  6. 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)
  7. often loses things necessary for tasks
  8. is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  9. 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!

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