What To Know About The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated April 1, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you often find yourself getting distracted, forgetting things, struggling to stay organized, and/or having trouble staying still, you may benefit from learning more about ADHD. The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale is a tool that may be useful for recognizing and reflecting on possible ADHD symptoms. While it’s not intended to take the place of an official diagnosis, it can still provide valuable insights and help a person understand when it may be time to seek support from a mental health professional. Read on to learn more about how this tool works and what it can be used for.

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Understanding ADHD

ADHD is short for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can cause symptoms that may interfere with work, school, relationships, and daily functioning. ADHD may manifest as any of three key presentations: primarily inattentive, primarily hyperactive, and a combination type.

Symptoms of the primarily inattentive type may include:

  • Being easily distracted
  • Trouble focusing on boring or repetitive work
  • Trouble following directions
  • Frequently bouncing from one activity to another
  • Frequently losing or forgetting things
  • Often getting lost in thought, even when talking to others

Symptoms of the primarily hyperactive type may include:

  • Frequent restlessness or fidgeting
  • Impulsive and/or risky behaviors
  • Frequently interrupting others
  • Difficulty waiting for things
  • Anger or irritability

 Again, a person with ADHD may experience symptoms from one or both of these categories. 

What is the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale?

ADHD is often diagnosed during childhood, but this is not always the case. For example, some people may develop coping mechanisms during childhood that “mask” their symptoms until later in life, resulting in a diagnosis in adulthood. It’s also more common for girls and women to not be diagnosed until later in life. The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS) is a tool that mental health professionals may use to diagnose ADHD in adults. If a clinician suspects you might have ADHD, they may ask you to fill it out in order to decide if more testing is needed or if a diagnosis may be warranted. 

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It’s also worth noting that scoring high on the self-administered scale does not necessarily mean you have ADHD, as this condition can only be officially diagnosed by a trained specialist. That said, the ASRS can still be a useful way to become familiar with ADHD symptoms and get an idea of whether you might fit the criteria so you can seek professional support if so.

What is included in the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale?

The ASRS is a questionnaire that invites the person taking it to rate different ADHD symptoms based on how often they experience them. You might take the scale yourself to see if it may be time to speak to a professional about your symptoms, or a professional may administer the test to inform a potential diagnosis. 

On a scale of one to five, with one being “Never” and five being “Always,” participants who take the ASRS are asked to respond to questions such as:

  • “How often do you have trouble wrapping up the final details of a project once the challenging parts have been done?”
  • “How often do you feel overly active and compelled to do things, like you were driven by a motor?”
  • “How often do you have difficulty unwinding and relaxing when you have time to yourself?”
  • “How often do you make careless mistakes when you have to work on a boring or difficult project?”

The questions on the ASRS are based on criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which establishes standards for diagnosing various mental health disorders. The questions are divided into two sections: Part A, which includes six questions, and Part B, which includes 12 questions. The symptoms potentially reflected by high scores in Part A are considered key signs that a person may need to be evaluated for ADHD. The symptoms potentially reflected by high scores in Part B are less likely to indicate ADHD but may still be worth looking into by a professional. 

What to do if you notice symptoms of ADHD

Perhaps you took the ASRS questionnaire and noticed multiple ADHD symptoms, or maybe you’d already recognized symptoms in your daily life. Either way, if you suspect you might be showing signs of ADHD, you might consider the following next steps.

Track your symptoms

If you recognize symptoms of ADHD in yourself, it can be worth documenting them and reflecting on how they’re affecting your life. You might try starting a symptom journal where you can track your symptoms and their frequency. That way, you can identify patterns and trends for yourself and bring the journal to discuss with a mental health care provider. 

Educate yourself

Understanding ADHD can be an important step in the process as well, whether you’ve noticed symptoms or have recently been diagnosed. It can be helpful to do some research on symptoms in general, the ways ADHD can manifest for people of different ages and genders, and how it can affect daily life. Talking to people who have been diagnosed may also give you further insight into your own experiences. 

Practice self-care

Taking care of your general health is usually important no matter what, but it can be especially crucial for people who may have ADHD. Eating nutritious foods, sleeping enough, and getting plenty of exercise can be important for managing symptoms and maintaining good mental health overall. Things like connecting with others socially and making time for enjoyable hobbies can also be beneficial forms of self-care to engage in. 

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Seek professional support

Again, the ASRS is not intended to be used as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you take the scale and it suggests you may have symptoms of ADHD, seeking professional evaluation is the only way to get an official, clinical diagnosis. Whether you end up having ADHD or not, a trained mental health professional can offer you support in managing whatever symptoms you may be experiencing and share personalized advice on how to proceed. 

If you’re experiencing ADHD symptoms like forgetfulness or trouble with time management, managing the logistics of commuting to a therapist’s office regularly for in-person care may be challenging. Online therapy may be a more convenient solution in such cases, as it allows you to meet with a licensed therapist virtually without having to leave your home. Research suggests that internet-based therapy can be effective in helping people manage the symptoms of ADHD. In a literature review from 2022, for example, researchers analyzed six studies on online therapy for people with ADHD, and their findings suggest that it may lead to improvements in areas such as social function and attention. 

Takeaway

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can make it hard to concentrate, make plans, stay organized, and manage emotions. If you’ve noticed symptoms of ADHD in yourself, you might use a tool like the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS) to see if it may be time to seek professional evaluation and support for any symptoms that may align with this condition. A professional may also administer the scale to inform a potential diagnosis. Remember that only a licensed mental health care provider can make an official diagnosis. If you suspect you may have ADHD, meeting with a therapist may be a helpful next step.

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