Getting Tested for Adult ADHD (An Inside Look)

Getting tested for adult ADHD is a completely different experience from that of a child. For most children, a diagnosis is determined by a series of questionnaires filled out by the adults in their life, and an interview with a mental health professional. Boom they’re done! For adults, it’s a longer and more complicated process.

Here’s how the normal process goes:

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Finding a Provider

For some of you, this will be an easy step. I’ve heard of many adults that were tested by the same provider that tested their child. For me, it wasn’t that simple. Mostly because I resisted getting tested until years after my child was diagnosed. By that time, we had moved to a different state.

If you don’t have a child or have to find a provider separate from your child’s, there are a few steps you need to take.

These steps will ensure you’re properly getting tested for adult ADHD:

  • Step One: Ensure you are getting a licensed provider with diagnostic credentials
  • Step Two: Find someone who specializes in neurological disorders like ADHD and Autism
  • Step Three: Make sure they are willing to test you and not just throw medication at you

If you do these 3 things, you’ll be on your way to finding out if you have ADHD in no time. Once you have your provider, the testing process begins. It usually consists of three days and a battery of psychological tests.

The Testing

Here’s what you can typically expect during the process of getting tested for adult ADHD:

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Day 1:

This is usually an interview with your diagnostic provider. They’ll talk to you about your entire life. Since ADHD must have been present in childhood, be prepared to go as far back as you can remember. Don’t stress out, though. No one is deciding anything on the first day. Just think of it as a chat with a friend… The kind of friend that asks personal and uncomfortable questions… Don’t act like you’ve never had “that” friend before. 

Day 2:

This is when the actual testing happens. I was given an IQ test and a few questionnaires. I took the ABAS-3 (Adaptive Behavior Assessment System) and the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) and a simple current mental health checklist. The ABAS-3 was around 30-40 questions. While the MMPI was about 500 questions. 

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The IQ Test

Let’s just say day 2 was the most frustrating day of the process. I started with the IQ test, which went well until we started on working memory (BTdubbs, working memory is more commonly called short-term memory). I had to remember a series of numbers or letters and repeat them back in different orders…

I got angry at one point and told my tester to stop because I couldn’t do it, and I was getting a headache…

We took a break then came back and finished it out with something other than working memory tests. So be prepared to feel incompetent if they decide to give you that IQ test.

The Questionnaires

After feeling like an idiot during my IQ test, I was put in an empty room with desks lining the walls and handed my questionnaires. They gave me as much time as I needed to complete all three packets. It took me two hours. Mostly because I kept getting distracted… 

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I couldn’t answer 500 true/false statements all at once, so I switched between forms often for about the first 300 or so until I finished the other forms. 

I then realized the desks were adjustable and went from sitting to standing to kneeling… I switched between all 3… frequently

At some point, I had a snack in my purse and took a minute to eat and survey my surrounding nothingness

Then I checked a text message and somehow got lost on Facebook for a bit…

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Seriously… If they were watching me on secret cameras or something, they probably determined I had ADHD long before they analyzed the data in those packets.

But for real, though. Be prepared to almost die of boredom because 500 questions should be illegal when it comes to ADHD. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!

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Day 3

By far, the most relaxed day. It’s when you come back and get your results. Ya know, when they put the big red stamp on your forehead that says HAS ADHD PLEASE BE KIND… Man, that would be a cool thing to have… maybe not in red though… sorry got distracted again

Right, the day you’re finally diagnosed and join us amazing atypicals, or you find out you’re neurotypical and sigh with relief. Although honestly, I sighed with relief when I was diagnosed. Finally, I had an answer, and I could start doing something about it. I think I would’ve cried if I was neurotypical. I would’ve had to continue searching for an answer to my weirdo brain.

Where to go From There

Once you’ve been diagnosed, you can choose a few routes forward. I suggest the one of acceptance and learning. The others aren’t as pretty. For example, some take it as a badge and use it as a proud excuse for laziness. Others get depressed thinking of all the wasted years… Me? I was thankful, and I dove headfirst into learning everything I could about ADHD.

From there, I discovered my superpowers. I got a better understanding of myself and my child… now children. I bonded with my teenager deeper than ever before over this shared experience, and we learned to master it together. 

If you need help getting started on finding a provider, here’s a great Clinics List.

Getting tested for adult ADHD can be a long and frustrating process, but I promise you it is worth it in the end, no matter the results. So keep being your awesome self, and maybe I’ll see you back here to learn to be Amazingly Atypical. 

Until Next Time…

💖 Kami 

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