18-Question ADHD Symptoms Checklist

The ADHD Self-Report Scale Symptoms Checklist is, along with the ADHD Self-Report Scale Screener, one of two questionnaires developed by researchers in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). While the Screener consists of a brief 6-question survey, the Symptoms Checklist is a more comprehensive 18-question test.

The Symptoms Checklist asks how often you experience different behaviors and symptoms associated with ADHD. For each symptom, you can answer “Never,” “Occasionally,” “Sometimes,” “Often” or “Very Often.”

As you read the questions, think about how each symptom might show up in different areas of life: school, work, social settings, home, and so on. The 18 questions in Version 1.1 of the Symptoms Checklist are:

  1. How often do you have trouble wrapping up the final details of a project, once the challenging parts have been done?
  2. How often do you have trouble getting things in order when you have to do a task that requires organization?
  3. How often do you have problems remembering appointments and obligations?
  4. When you have a task that requires a lot of thought, how often do you avoid or delay getting started?
  5. How often do you fidget or squirm with your hands or feet when you have to sit down for a long time?
  6. How often do you feel overly active and compelled to do things, like you were driven by a motor?
  7. How often do you make careless mistakes when you have to work on a boring or difficult project?
  8. How often do you have difficulty keeping your attention when you are doing boring or repetitive work?
  9. How often do you have difficulty concentrating on what people are saying to you, even when they are speaking to you directly?
  10. How often do you misplace or have difficulty finding things at home or work?
  11. How often are you distracted by activity or noise around you?
  12. How often do you leave your seat in meetings or other situations in which you are expected to remain seated?
  13. How often do you feel restless or fidgety?
  14. How often do you have difficulty unwinding or relaxing when you have time to yourself?
  15. How often do you find yourself talking too much when you are in social situations?
  16. When you’re in a conversation, how often do you find yourself finishing the sentences of the people you are talking to, before they can finish them themselves?
  17. How often do you have difficulty waiting your turn in situations where turn taking is required?
  18. How often do you interrupt others when they are busy?

For each symptom, there is a threshold where the symptom is considered significant. For questions, 1, 2, 3, 9, 12, 16 and 18, you reach that threshold if you answered “Sometimes,” “Often” or “Very Often.” For all the other questions, the threshold is “Often” or “Very Often.”

So how many of the symptoms would someone with ADHD generally have? If you met the threshold for at least four of the first six questions, that’s a strong indication that your behavior is consistent with a possible ADHD diagnosis. For the other questions, there’s no cutoff, but meeting the threshold for more questions generally means ADHD is more likely.

In other words, there’s no magic number, but if you found yourself repeatedly reading the questions and thinking “yeah, that sounds like me,” it’s a good idea to learn more about ADHD and talk to a medical professional.

The original study outlining the Symptoms Checklist tested the checklist on a group of 154 people. Of the people who tested as having ADHD, 98.3 percent really did. However, of all the people with ADHD, only 56.3 percent were caught by the checklist. Basically, then, while testing as having ADHD on the Symptoms Checklist suggests that ADHD is a strong possibility, the opposite isn’t necessarily true – it’s not uncommon for people with ADHD to incorrectly test as not having ADHD. So the checklist is best used along with other tools for spotting ADHD and, ultimately, in-depth conversations with medical professionals.

As with the ADHD Self-Report Scale Screener, the ADHD Self-Report Scale Symptoms Checklist is available in a variety of languages. To get copies of the checklist in different languages, visit Harvard Medical School’s National Comorbidity Survey website.

Image: Flickr/AJC1

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