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Attention Deficit Disorder

RBI staff diagnoses and treats conditions such as attention-deficit disorder, ADD/ADHD.

Children: The basic categories of symptoms in children are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, often referred to as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Does your child have ADHD? Download the latest child behavioral tools via this UTHSC link.


ADULTS & ADOLESCENTS: Scroll down and use the helpful tool at the bottom of this page that is more designed for you.


People are increasingly referring to the adult form of the disorder as ADD, because symptoms of hyperactivity (the "H" in ADHD) tend to diminish with age, often taking the form of restlessness or irritability, fidgetiness and difficulty engaging in quiet activities. However, ADHD and ADD can apply to both children and adults, and many variants of the disorder exists requiring an experienced professional's assessment and treatment inclusive of counseling and medication.


Until the 1970s, it was believed that ADHD was strictly a childhood disorder, and that children outgrew it in adolescence. Only gradually was it realized that while the hyperactivity component may diminish, the attention and impulsive aspects can persist into adulthood.


Symptoms commonly associated with Adult ADD include: lack of focus, disorganization, restlessness, difficulty finishing projects, losing things.


These symptoms interfere with success at work and get in the way at home or with friends. Many adults do not realize that they have Adult ADD until their own child is diagnosed with the disorder.


Only then do they recognize the pattern of problems they have faced since childhood. They are relieved that there is a name for the frustration they have felt all their lives, and there are therapies and treatments designed to help.


Recognizing Adult ADD

Fidgeting, interrupting conversations, losing things, forgetting the reason for a trip to the grocery store - everyone acts this way once in a while; however, a long and persistent history of restless, impulsive, or inattentive behavior may be a sign of Adult ADD. This is especially true if these behaviors have existed since childhood and result in problems at work, home or in social situations.

If you think you may have Adult ADD, here are several questions you may want to ask yourself.

Ask yourself these questions and think about how long you have experienced these symptoms and how often they occur. If these symptoms are interfering with your success at home, work or with friends, you may want a clinical evaluation and treatment.


  • Do you have difficulty concentrating or focusing your attention on one thing?
  • Do you often start multiple projects at the same time, but rarely finish them?
  • Do you have trouble with organization?
  • Do you procrastinate on projects that take a lot of attention to detail?
  • Do you have problems remembering appointments or obligations?
  • Do you have trouble staying seated during meetings or other activities?
  • Are you restless or fidgety?
  • Do you often lose or misplace things?


Current Adult ADD treatment practices focus on management of symptoms through a combination of treatment methods: behavior modification (including coaching and therapy); medication; and combination therapy (medication and behavior therapy).


Treatment should be individualized for each patient and has three basic stages:


  • Baseline evaluation: As part of the diagnostic evaluation, your Psychiatric ARNP determines the target symptoms and the baseline degree of impairment.
  • Treatment strategy: The Psychiatric ARNP forms a treatment strategy by prioritizing the target symptoms and determining which methods are best suited to reduce them.
  • Symptom monitoring and strategy adjustment:A key part of Adult ADD treatment is monitoring of symptoms in various areas (such as learning, academics, family interactions, and peer relationships) and settings (such as home, workplace, social context).


Recognizing Adult ADD



Read this list of behaviors and rate yourself (or the person who has asked you to rate him or her) on each behavior listed. Use the following scale and place the appropriate number next to the item.


0 = never
1 = rarely
2 = occasionally
3 = frequently
4 = very frequently


IMPORTANT: This is not a tool for self-diagnosis. Its purpose is simply to help you determine whether ADD may be a factor in the behavior of the person you are assessing using this checklist. An actual diagnosis can be made only by an experienced professional (i.e., your Psychiatric ARNP).

1. History of ADD symptoms in childhood, such as distractibility, short attention span, impulsivity or restlessness. ADD doesn't start at age 30.
2. History of not living up to potential in school or work (report cards with comments such as "not living up to potential")
3. History of frequent behavior problems in school (mostly for males)
4. History of bed wetting past age 5
5. FAMILY history of ADD, learning problems, mood disorders or substance abuse problems ion Span/Distractibility
6. Short attention span, unless very interested in something
7. Easily distracted, tendency to drift away (although may be hyper focused
8. Lacks attention to detail, due to distractibility
9. Trouble listening carefully to directions
10. Frequently misplaces things
11. Skips around while reading, or goes to the end first, trouble staying on track
12. Difficulty learning new things because it is hard to stay on track during directions
13. Easily distracted during sex causing breaks or turn-offs during lovemaking
14. Poor listening skills
15. Tendency to be easily bored (tunes out)
16. Restlessness, constant motion, legs moving, fidgetiness
17. Has to be moving in order to think
18. Trouble sitting still, such as trouble sitting in one place for too long, sitting at a desk job for long periods, sitting through a movie
19. An internal sense of anxiety or nervousness
20. Impulsive, in words and/or actions
21. Say just what comes to mind without considering its impact
22. Trouble going through established channels or following proper procedure
23. Impatient, low frustration tolerance
24. A prisoner of the moment
25. Frequent traffic violations
26. Frequent/impulsive job changes
27. Tendency to embarrass others
28. Lying or stealing on impulse
29. Poor organization and planning, trouble maintaining an organized work/living area
30. Chronically late or chronically in a hurry
31. Often have piles of stuff
32. Easily overwhelmed by tasks of daily living
33. Poor financial management (late bills, check book mess, disorderly spending)
34. Successful when surrounded with people who help organize
35. Chronic procrastination or trouble getting started
36. Starting projects but not finishing them
37. Enthusiastic beginnings but poor endings
38. Inconsistent/poor work performance
39. Underachievement, feeling you should be further along in your life than you are
40. Chronic problems with self-esteem
41. Sense of impending doom
42. Mood Swings
43. Negativity
44. Frequent feeling demoralized or negative
45. Poor friendships, intimate relationships, promiscuity
46. Trouble with intimacy
47. Tendency to be immature
48. Self-centered; immature interests
49. Failure to see others' needs or activities as important
50. Verbally abusive to others
51. Proneness to hysterical outburst
52. Avoids group activities
53. Trouble with authority, short fuse
54. Quick responses to slights that are real or imagined
55. Rage outbursts, short fuse
56. Frequent search for high stimulation (bungee jumping, gambling, race track, high stress jobs, ER doctors, doing many things at once, etc.)
57. Tendency to seek conflict, be argumentative or to start disagreements for the fun of it
58. Tendency to worry needlessly and endlessly
59. Addictions tendency(food, alcohol, drugs, sex, work)
60. Switches around numbers, letters or words
61. Turn words around in conversations
Writing/Fine Motor Coordination Difficulties
62. Poor writing skills (hard to put word son paper)
63. Poor handwriting, often prints
64 Coordination difficulties;Harder I try the worse it gets
65 Performance becomes worse under pressure.
66 Test anxiety, or during tests, mind tends to go blank
67 The harder you try, the worse it gets
68 Work or schoolwork deteriorates under pressure
69 Turns off/ gets stuck when asked to perform in social/school/or work situations
70 Falls asleep or becomes tired while reading
71 Difficulties falling asleep,or excessive thoughts in bed
72 Difficulty coming awake (may need coffee or other stimulant or activity before feeling fully awake) Low Energy
73 Periods of low energy, especially early in the morning and in the afternoon
74 Frequently feeling tired
75 Startles easily
76 Sensitive to touch, clothes, noise and light

After completing the above checklist, calculate the following:

  1. Total Score: _______
  2. Sum of Items scored 3 or higher:_______
  3. Score for Item #1: _______
  4. Score for Item #6: _______
  5. Score for Item #7: _______

KEY:More than 20 items with a score of three or more indicates a strong tendency toward ADD. Items 1, 6, and 7 are essential to make the diagnosis. ADD is often found in adults when a parent says they have tried their child's medication and that they found it very helpful. They report it helped them concentrate more, become more organized and less impulsive.



Contact Rainier Professional Psychiatry