Think You Or Your Child Has ADHD? How A Screening Test Can Help

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated September 18, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that can present in different ways and seriously affect the lives of those experiencing it.

Because of its complexity and severity, detecting ADHD early can be advantageous, helping individuals better navigate the disorder during key developmental stages.

Parents concerned that their children are displaying symptoms of ADHD often look for resources that will help them identify specific signs and, if necessary, seek further testing and treatment. 

If you are concerned that your child is living with ADHD, you may also wonder whether you live with the disorder. Experts agree that genetics are a primary contributor to the development of ADHD; and research shows that symptoms continue into adulthood for around 60% of people who experience it in childhood. So, if your child is living with ADHD, there is a chance you may be, as well. While a diagnosis will have to be provided by a healthcare professional, screening tests can give you a better idea of whether your or your child’s symptoms indicate the existence of ADHD. Below we’re going to discuss the symptoms of ADHD and how a screening test can help you learn more about the degree to which they may be affecting you. 

Support Is Available As You Navigate ADHD

What Is ADHD?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. The disorder typically arises during childhood and can persist into adulthood, though certain symptoms may diminish over time. ADHD is separated into three subtypes: inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type, and combined type. The symptoms of ADHD will generally depend on which presentation the individual experiences. 

ADHD is thought to be mostly caused by genetics, with a heritability of nearly 90% by some estimates. Brain function and structure are thought to play important roles in ADHD’s etiology, and environmental factors—such as prenatal smoking, exposure to toxins, and head injuries—have also been implicated in its development. 

An estimated 9% of children and 4.4% of adults live with ADHD in the United States. Boys are more commonly diagnosed with the disorder than girls, with a national prevalence of 13% and 6%, respectively.   

An ADHD diagnosis will typically be provided when an individual meets the diagnostic criteria for ADHD outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). These criteria can be fulfilled by the existence of five or more (for adults) or six or more (for children and adolescents) symptoms of either inattentive type or hyperactive/impulsive type ADHD. 

How ADHD Screening Tests Can Help

ADHD can present significant challenges in the life of an individual experiencing it, including struggles with work, school, relationships, emotional and mental health, and even physical health. And in many cases, it is a lifelong disorder. So, early detection can play a crucial role in its successful management. 

Studies have found that people with undiagnosed ADHD have more trouble achieving success in school than those with diagnosed ADHD. There is also evidence that treating ADHD in childhood can help the individual avoid comorbidities and the potential negative social effects of the disorder. 

Early detection can help a person with ADHD learn coping techniques they can utilize in scholastic and social settings. An individual who is treated from a young age may avoid self-esteem concerns and elevated stress levels, which have been linked to undiagnosed ADHD. And as the individual transitions into adulthood, understanding how specific symptoms affect day-to-day life can help them better organize their life and manage tasks. Below, we’re going to discuss how you can evaluate yourself or your child to increase the chances of early detection. 

How To Find And Utilize ADHD Self-Assessments

There are many valuable resources available to you when you want to better understand the likelihood that you or your child is living with ADHD. It is important to remember, though, that these self-evaluations are not meant to diagnose you, only to give you a better idea of whether your symptoms might signal the existence of the disorder. 

The NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessment Scales are a series of questionnaires that parents can fill out and score on their own to determine whether to seek professional care. This test includes a screener that can be filled out by your child’s teacher, which can provide further clarity. There are also resources and specific tests for children that can be completed online, such as the  and symptom test provided by ADDitude, the ADHD-focused magazine. 

There are also self-evaluations available for adults to identify symptoms that may rise to the level of ADHD. The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS-V1.1) is a screener developed by the World Health Organization that asks 18 questions about potential challenges experienced in one’s life, and their severity. The ASRS serves as the basis for many of the online screening tests available through various outlets.  

When searching online for ADHD self-assessments, look for those provided by reputable sites and adapted from accepted screening resources (e.g., the DSM, the ASRS). Often this information will be cited at the beginning or end of the evaluation. While you can often receive a score, or tally a score yourself, for these evaluations, a healthcare professional will usually be able to interpret the results in a more comprehensive manner. 

Further Support for ADHD

If a screening test indicates that you or your child may be living with ADHD, or you otherwise believe it is a possibility, it is suggested that you make an appointment with a medical or mental health professional. They can review the results of the self-assessment and conduct evaluations of their own, including a physical examination, a medical history review, and hearing and vision tests. This will help them eliminate other possible causes and better determine whether a diagnosis is necessary. 

It can also help to talk to teachers, relatives, and other people who may have spent a lot of time with your child. They can provide insights into behavior that may signal the existence of ADHD. Researching information on ADHD from reputable sources can also help you learn more about the disorder and how it can manifest. 

How To Manage Your Or Your Child's ADHD

While ADHD can present significant challenges in life, it is also a treatable disorder. If you or your child is diagnosed with ADHD, there are several treatment methods that can help you address the symptoms and live a productive, happy life. 

Medication is generally considered the first-line treatment for ADHD and is often utilized in conjunction with psychotherapy and lifestyle changes. The two main types of ADHD medication are stimulants and non-stimulants, both of which have been used safely for decades. Medication has been shown to effectively reduce symptoms in up to 70% of adults and 80% of children. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting or stopping any medication. 

Psychotherapy is also frequently used to help individuals address certain behaviors and emotions presented by ADHD. When treating children, therapy often involves teaching parents and teachers how to provide positive feedback for desired behavior.

Adults with ADHD can work with therapists to develop strategies that allow for a more structured and organized lifestyle. Therapy can also help individuals address the emotional challenges that often accompany ADHD, including symptoms of comorbid mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.  

Support Is Available As You Navigate ADHD

Lifestyle changes have also been found to decrease symptoms of ADHD successfully in children and adults. Eating a balanced diet, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and exercising regularly can improve symptoms and make management easier. 

Navigating ADHD With Online Therapy

Studies show that online therapy can help individuals with ADHD manage their symptoms. For example, in a study of 120 people diagnosed with ADHD, researchers found that online therapy significantly reduced participants’ symptoms and improved overall quality of life, results that were sustained at a 3-month follow-up. The primary method used to measure symptoms was the ADHD Self-Rating Scale (ASRS), which, as discussed above, is widely utilized to evaluate the disorder’s severity.  

If you are living with ADHD or are caring for a child who has the disorder, online therapy can help you learn management strategies and address your emotional well-being. With an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, you can work with a therapist remotely, which can be helpful if you are a busy parent, or if you’re not comfortable discussing your symptoms in person. And if ADHD causes you to struggle managing your time, online therapy offers flexible scheduling and frequent appointment reminders. 


It can be hard to determine whether your or your child’s behaviors and feelings are signs of ADHD that may require treatment. A screening test can give you a better idea of the likelihood of the existence of ADHD and whether further examinations may be necessary. If you or your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, online therapy can provide you with support and resources that can help you manage the disorder. With the right guidance, you can navigate the challenges of ADHD and take the next steps on your mental health journey.

Gain a better understanding of ADHD

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started