Why You Might Not Have Been Tested for ADHD as a Child & Why You Should Now
More and more people are discovering as adults that they have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Most ADHDers are diagnosed in childhood, but many are late diagnosed, or undiagnosed. You may be one of them. So, why weren’t you tested for ADHD in school?
Why Didn’t You Get ADHD Testing in School?
There are at least four possible reasons why you might have escaped recognition during your childhood, even though you may have had ADHD all along.
1. You Were a Smart Kid
Maybe you were a smart kid in school. If you did well in your classes and you got passing grades, your teachers may not have considered referring you for testing. The ones who struggled to learn new things and to retain information were noticed. Students who fail to keep up with their classmates are often referred for special education assessment, at which time their attention processing challenges would have been recognized. The smart kids are smart enough to keep their grades up, in spite of their wandering attention or heightened activity level.
2. You Had a Good Support System
Some kids with ADHD would struggle to keep up with their studies on their own. However, they have a strong support system to help them stay on track. It might be a parent who stays in touch with the teachers and knows what assignments are due, and when. The parent makes sure that their child finishes their homework, even if they have to sit beside them and keep pointing to the next problem when their mind wanders. Sometimes a teacher takes a special interest in a promising student and gives them extra support or tutoring, as well as the benefit of the doubt when needed. Without the support system in place, the student may have failed, but with the right kind of support they were able to stay in general education and pass their classes with the rest of their classmates.
3. You Were a Good Kid
The kids with the impulsive-hyperactive type of ADHD tend to get in trouble – a lot! They can’t seem to sit still, and when an idea pops into their head, they’re already in the middle of it before they have a chance to reflect on whether it’s a good idea or a bad idea. Kids who were more inattentive than impulsive tended to get in trouble less often. Daydreaming in class may keep you from following along with the lecture, but it won’t disturb everyone around you.
Some kids with ADHD disrupted class by blurting out answers before their teacher called on them, or even finished asking the question. This can be annoying to teachers, but if the student is usually polite, and is blurting out the correct answer and not too far out in left field, the teacher might take it in stride. If you were the kind of kid who would apologize sweetly and believably after each impulsive act, your teacher would have been more likely to cut you some slack. The most disruptive, hyper kids may have been referred for special education testing because they were impossible to ignore. The good kids who didn’t get in trouble in class didn’t usually get referred for ADHD testing. If you were one of those good kids, that may be a reason why you didn’t get tested then. But, it’s never too late.
4. You Were a Girl
Finally, if you were a girl, you were much less likely to be tested for ADHD than the boys were. Inattentive girls are thought of as imaginative daydreamers. Active little girls are called “tomboys” or “dancers,” but ADHD is not the first thing people think of. Unfortunately, gender alone can be enough to keep a girl from being referred for ADHD testing.
Even though there may have been multiple reasons why you never got tested for ADHD when you were a child, now that you’re an adult, it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. You can’t go back in time and get special education support after you’re already out of school. It’s too late to change your past.
But does that mean it’s too late to change your future?
No, of course not. It’s never too late to get tested for ADHD as an adult if that’s what you want.
Why Should You Get ADHD Testing Now?
1. You Need Educational Accommodations
If you’re in college, or you’re considering going back to school to get an advanced degree or special career training, you may need accommodations. Accommodations are practices that can be put into place to help level the playing field for a student with a disability, at any age or stage of education. Some adults with ADHD need more time to take tests, or need to take tests in a quiet, non-distracting environment. Sitting at a desktop carrell which provides walls to the right and left of the desktop can help block distracting visual stimuli. Wearing headphones can block out distracting sounds.
If you’re a visual learner, you might ask for instructions to be given in writing rather than just verbally during the lecture. If you’re an auditory learner, find out if the university library has an audio book of your texts that could be made available for you.
Whatever accommodations you need, though, you won’t be guaranteed support without a formal diagnosis of ADHD. Telling the disabled student services counselor that you believe that you have ADHD won’t get you the help you deserve. You need a formal diagnosis to access support in school.
2. You Need Workplace Accommodations
If you’re struggling at work because of inattention, impulsivity, or a high activity level, you might need workplace accommodations. This could start with understanding. If your boss understands your need to move, they won’t think it’s strange if you pace at the back of the meeting room. Or if you sit and fidget with paperclips during the meeting. If you need to wear earphones to stay on track and focused, your supervisor won’t assume you’re listening to a ball game or blowing off work. As long as they understand it’s an accommodation you need because of a disability.
But, like disabled student services at college, the human relations department at your company won’t automatically make accommodations or allowances for you just on your word alone. If you want to be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) then you need to prove that you have a disability. Such as ADHD.
3. You Need Answers
Maybe you don’t need any kind of special accommodations in school or at work, but you still want to know. Having a diagnosis might help you make sense of your life, and the challenges you’ve experienced, looking back with the perspective that comes from knowledge. If you’ve got questions, if you just want to know if you have ADHD for yourself, you can get tested. You deserve answers.
Is ADHD Testing the Right Next Step for You?
Do you need accommodations at school or work? Do you just want to know for yourself? Then ADHD testing is probably something you want to seriously consider. Before you decide, though, you should do your own research and talk to someone who can answer your questions. At Adult Autism Assessment & Services, we’re not just about autism. We’re experienced with ADHD testing with adults, even if you’ve been hiding your ADHD from the rest of the world. Here’s where to start:
- Contact our Practice Manager, by emailing the marvelous Meagan, at [email protected]
- Meagan will help you get connected with one of the online therapists on our team for a free online consultation.
- During the consultation hear about the process and what you can expect.
- If you decide to go forward with ADHD testing, Meagan will arrange everything.