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Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Checklist

by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

This educational material is made available courtesy of the author and Attention Deficit Disorder Resources. In conjunction with other diagnostic techniques, Dr Amen says he, "uses the following general adult ADHD checklist to help further define ADHD symptoms. No ADHD adult has all of the symptoms, but if you notice a strong presence of more than 20 of these symptoms, there is a strong likelihood of ADHD." 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 ADHD 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.

***Note: The three items with * and a score above three are essential to make the diagnosis.

Past History

1.__*History of ADHD symptoms in childhood, such as distractibility, short attention span, impulsivity or restlessness. ADHD 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 bedwetting past age 5

5.__Family history of ADHD , learning problems, mood disorders or substance abuse problems

Short Attention Span/Distractibility

6.__*Short attention span, unless very interested in something

7.__*Easily distracted, tendency to drift away (although at times can be hyperfocused)

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 games, because it is hard to stay on track during directions

13.__Easily distracted during sex, causing frequent breaks or turn-offs during lovemaking

14.__Poor listening skills

15.__Tendency to be easily bored (tunes out)


16.__Restlessness, constant motion, legs moving, fidgeting

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 (spending)

21.__Say just what comes to mind without considering its impact (tactless)

22.__Trouble going through established channels, trouble following proper procedure, an attitude of "read the directions when all else fails"

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

Poor Organization

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 a mess, spending unnecessary money on late fees)

Problems Getting Started and Following Through

34.__Chronic procrastination or trouble getting started

35.__Starting projects but not finishing them, poor follow through

36.__Enthusiastic beginnings but poor endings

37.__Spends excessive time at work because of inefficiencies

38.__Inconsistent work performance

Negative Internal Feelings

39.__Chronic sense of under achievement, feeling you should be much further along in your life than you are

40.__Chronic problems with self-esteem

41.__Sense of impending doom

42.__Mood swings


44.__Frequent feeling of demoralization or that things won't work out for you

Relational Difficulties

45.__Trouble sustaining friendships or 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.__Lack of talking in a relationship

51.__Verbally abusive to others

52.__Prone to hysterical outburst

53.__Avoids group activities

54.__Trouble with authority

Short Fuse

55.__Quick responses to slights that are real or imagined

56.__Rage outbursts, short fuse

Frequent Search For High Stimulation

57.__Frequent search for high stimulation (bungee jumping, gambling, race track, high stress jobs, ER doctors, doing many things at once, etc.)

58.__Tendency to seek conflict, be argumentative or to start disagreements for the fun of it

Tendency To Get Stuck (thoughts or behaviors)

59.__Tendency to worry needlessly and endlessly

60.__Tendency toward ADHD ictions (food, alcohol, drugs, work)

Switches Things Around

61.__Switches around numbers, letters or words

62.__Turn words around in conversations

Writing/Fine Motor Coordination Difficulties

63.__Poor writing skills (hard to get information from brain to pen)

64.__Poor handwriting, often prints

65.__Coordination difficulties

The Harder I Try The Worse It Gets

66.__Performance becomes worse under pressure.

67.__Test anxiety, or during tests your mind tends to go blank

68.__The harder you try, the worse it gets

69.__Work or schoolwork deteriorates under pressure

70.__Tendency to turn off or become stuck when asked questions in social situations

71.__Falls asleep or becomes tired while reading

Sleep/Wake Difficulties

72.__Difficulty falling asleep, may be due to too many thoughts at night

73.__Difficulty coming awake (may need coffee or other stimulant or activity before feeling fully awake)

Low Energy

74.__Periods of low energy, especially early in the morning and in the afternoon

75.__Frequently feeling tired

Sensitive To Noise Or Touch

76.__Startles easily

77.__Sensitive to touch, clothes, noise and light

When you have completed the above checklist, calculate the Total Score: _______

Total Number of Items with a score of three (3) or more: _______

Score for Item #1: _______

Score for Item #6: _______

Score for Item #7: _______

Dr. Amen suggests: "More than 20 items with a score of three or more indicates a strong tendency toward ADHD . Note: The three items with * and a score above three are essential to make the diagnosis."

Editor's Note: If you believe your score indicates possible ADHD, then you might want to read these articles at our website: Tips for finding an ADHD Clinician and ADHD Support and ADHD 101.

Dr. Daniel G. Amen is a child and adult psychiatrist, brain-imaging specialist, best-selling author, and medical director of The Amen Clinics in Newport Beach and Fairfield, California as well as Tacoma, Washington. He is a nationally recognized expert in the fields of "the brain and behavior" and "brain imaging." Dr. Amen has pioneered the use of brain imaging in clinical psychiatric practice. His clinics have the world's largest database of functional brain scans for neuropsychiatry. In addition to his private practice, Dr. Amen is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior in the University of California, Irvine College of Medicine. Email: Website:

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