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23 Signs You Do Not Have ADHD

By Rick GreenADHD, ADD, Overwhelm, Do I have ADHD, Do I have ADD

There are lots of quizzes and tests you can take to find out if you have ADHD. We have one online – give it a try! Or  you could have some brain scans done!

It may show what’s going on, but doesn’t really help you finish that stuff you’re procrastinating doing, or finding what you’re missing, and it sure doesn’t help you to arrive on time!

But since most people who take tests dread finding out that they have ADHD, I have created a new test. I call it 23 Signs You Do Not Have ADHD. This fabulous new quiz is as scientific as I could make it. Which is to say, I put on the lab coat I used to wear when I was a teacher at the Ontario Science Centre back in the 1970’s. (The late 70’s. I’m actually quite youthful.) OK, we’ll it’s more scientific than that, but the lab coat helps too. So here we go!

23 SIGNS YOU DO NOT HAVE ADHD

1.    You’re a mess in a crisis.
Folks with ADHD tend to be great when the adrenaline flows.  That’s why there are so many with ADD in adrenaline-producing careers: the military, police, fire & rescue, E.R., stock market, high tech, show biz, and sales.

2.    You feel like you are living up to your potential.
One of the most common things you’ll hear  ADHD adults say is, “I’m underachieving.”  I’m betting even famous ADHD adults like Richard Branson feel this way.  One reason?  We may actually be underachieving. It’s hard to be your best when you have the equivalent of 9 radios blaring in your head 24/7.

3.    You finish projects on time.
Wow, what’s that like?!

4.    In the past month a few friends have said, “You seem like you have ADHD lately. Maybe you should get tested.”
ADHD is there from childhood.  “I’ve been so scattered, confused, and overwhelmed… ever since my house exploded,” is not ADHD.  It’s stress and overwhelm from your house exploding. Or a loved one dying. Or losing a job. Or any recent crisis.

5.    You’ve been with the same company more than 6 months.
Okay, an exaggeration. But we tend to get restless. Or get fired. Or go off and start a new company.

6.    Your parents and siblings don’t have ADHD.
ADHD runs in families. It’s in your genes. The statistic I’ve heard quoted by the top experts is that it’s 79% heritable.  About the same rate of inheritability as your height.

7.    You have your taxes done and filed ahead of time.
Wow. I cannot imagine.

8.    The term ‘hyperfocus’ doesn’t really resonate with you.
Despite the name, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is not a ‘Deficit’ of Attention. It’s uneven, unmanaged, unpredictable attention. Sometimes on the wrong things. Or at the wrong time.  When we are interested, we are laser focused.

9.    When someone asks, “What were you thinking?!” you are able to tell them.
Period.

10.    Without taking your eyes off this screen, you can tell me where you left your keys.

11.    You have no trouble reading any of this.
40% of ADHD kids have a Learning Disorder such as Dyslexia.  And the majority of ADHD kids become ADHD Adults.

12.    You tend to listen more than you talk.
It feels like every time I’m interviewed on the radio, the host discloses the fact that one or two of their kids have been diagnosed and they think they have it too.

13.    You are curious to find out if you have ADHD.
I am not the only ADHD adult who has noticed that the people who are the most vehemently opposed to the possibility that they might have this mindset are the ones who seem to have lots of the symptoms. A number of the experts in our videos have told us the same thing.

14.    You have a great sense of time, and never get lost.
It’s not a universal truth that people with ADD lack this ability. I’ve actually developed a good sense of time. But so many ADHD folks get lost or arrive late to everything they attend.

15.    Your To-Do list has fewer than 493 items on it.
Don’t ask. We get enthusiastic.

16.    Your desk top is visible.
For some reason people with ADHD need piles. And the weird part is, we know what is in each pile.  What looks like disorganized is actually differently organized.

17.    Now and then you walk into a room and wonder, “Now what was it I came in here to get?”
I have days where I go back to where I started, “Oh, right, I was going to get the stapler.” And then return to get it… and arrive… and wonder… “Darn, what was it I came in here to get?!

18.    You tend not to overreact.
ADHD affects Executive Function – organizing, prioritizing, keeping track, staying on track, finishing, following through…It’s also about monitoring your emotions. Reacting appropriately. Whatever that means! I mean, reeeeeeaaaally! OMG! How dare they say I overreact, I’m a drama king! It’s the end of the world!

19.    You don’t talk to yourself.
Working Memory, that is to say, holding stuff in mind… “Right, the stapler. I’ll go get it.” … is often a weak point for ADHD adults. So speaking it aloud helps to keep it alive.

20.    You’ve said “No more coffee for me. It’s after 7:00!”
Caffeine is a stimulant. Half the planet uses it to focus at work. ADHD medications are also stimulants. Unlike coffee they aren’t addictive.  So many ADHD adults find that they can drink coffee at night, and it actually helps them focus their thoughts, and slow down their racing mind. So they can fall asleep.

21.    You can tell who made your shirt by the tag on it.
When we ordered ADHD T-Shirts for our shop, we made sure they came without tags or removable tags. Weird, right? Not really. Y’see, we struggle with managing our attention. And our emotions.  And our reactions.  But we may also struggle with physical sensations. Noisy rooms, bright lights, certain fabrics, even clothing tags; all of these can add to the irritation for a prefrontal Cortex that is struggling to deal with overwhelming input.

22.    Your closet isn’t full of unused scuba gear, musical instruments, exercise equipment, yoga gear, and sports equipment.
ADHD folks tend to be interested in a lot of things. We can be curious. And enthusiastic. And say ‘yes’ to everything.

23.    You read through this list in order, thinking about each one, not skipping to the end.
Again, I have to say, wow! Good for you, because I can’t do that!

 

Group of ADHD PeopleIf you think you do have ADHD, you’re not alone. About 1 in 25 adults qualifies as being in the spectrum – probably struggling in life but not knowing why. And assuming they are lazy, weak-willed, flaky, or dumb.

You’re not crazy. It’s not a mental illness. It’s how you’re wired. It’s about low levels of certain neurotransmitters. It’s biology not morality. And there’s lots you can do about it.

A recent University of Memphis study showed that people with ADHD score higher than their ‘neurotypical peers’ on 11 standard tests for creativity. So if you find out you have ADHD, it will explain a lot of your challenges and also where you thrive. And at some point you’ll actually experience relief, “So, there was a reason!” You’ll almost certainly also experience, “Why didn’t I know sooner?! Why didn’t someone see this before now?!”

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November 14, 2014 Rick Green

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31 Responses to “23 Signs You Do Not Have ADHD”

  1. leeder says:

    So, I clicked on the link to this page as a defiant little way to “prove” the man who diagnosed me wrong.
    That didn’t work out like I planned.
    Your list made me laugh my ass off, and I probably disrupted a few people.
    The paragraph at the end made me cry a little.
    I don’t know, maybe I’m just having some serious mood swings, but either way, I immediately signed up for your site.

  2. cognizant says:

    For years I have thought that there was either something wrong with me, or that I was special. I have always had a thousand and one things running through my mind and thought everyone else did, until I found out that no, they didn’t. I have been battling crippling self doubt, whilst often outwardly displaying confidence that belied my inner turmoil. I could not understand how a man with above average intelligence, seemed to be consistently spinning wheels on the world to nowhere. Until today. It’s like someone has literally taken my life and put it online. Well, not EVERYTHING. But the vast amount that I have read about ADD/ADHD (thank you, hyperfocus!), has left me in no doubt. I will get officially diagnosed, but as poster said below, this is both liberating and frightening. For so many years I have been fighting this internal battle and now I know what it is. I’m not crazy. I’m not useless. I’m not lazy. I feel SO much better that I have found this resource, amongst others.

    Time to turn that corner.

  3. yaoiphobic says:

    After reading this, I’m definitely feeling more valid about being ADHD in a time where everyone with even the vaguest symptoms get slapped with an ADHD/ADD diagnosis. I can honestly say this disorder disables me in everyday life (Hell, I dropped out of school at 16 because I was going to fail out due to not being able to pay attention. Studying did absolutely nothing for me.) But, I 100% agree with thriving in typically stressful situations. There are times when I actually HOPE for something crazy to happen just so I can get that near-euphoric high off of it.
    Hyperfocus is great — Until you’re at work and you’re supposed to be doing payroll, but all you can think about is an idea for a book that you want to write and as a result can’t do payroll for the life of you.
    Like Danodea said, I actually also have an eidetic memory. Problem is, I can never focus on anything and, as a result, none of it commits to memory unless I’m hyperfocusing on something so that incredible memory is essentially useless to me. I lose absolutely everything and can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing for the life of me. I just started Adderall today, though, and the results are looking good so far, so here’s hoping I finally get the chance to remember things at least part of the time. Maybe I’ll even write that book that I’ve had in the works for 10 years.

  4. danodea says:

    Interesting – I comment 7 months apart and produce almost exactly the same comments even when I didn’t remember posting here back then.

  5. danodea says:

    OK, some issues here.

    #7 and #8 go hand-in-hand. I file my taxes early because I want to get them out of the way, so I hyperfocus on them until they’re done.

    #10: I have a near-eidetic memory. I can tell you not only where I left my car keys, I can tell you every bank account I have ever owned (account numbers too), every PIN, and what I’m wearing without looking. My memory has nothing whatsoever to do with my ADHD, although I do often get the “Oh, I just had that answer” moments.

    #14: I have never, ever gotten lost, both because of the memory (see #10) and because I have a great spatial relations sense. Maybe that’s the ASD on top of the ADHD, I don’t know.

    #20: I don’t drink coffee. I do drink a lot of caffeinated sodas, though.

  6. futaim says:

    14. I am punctual most times (of course excluding the times I forget about the meeting and only remember hours late or even days after).

    I mean if the efforts I made to remember the event were successful; I usually show up on time. The trick I use is; I add two hours before the meeting time, and that is when I start dressing up and getting ready for that 1 hour meeting. (And by dressing up I mean putting on clothes and leaving the house.)

    The down side of this is that many times I would show up 20-30 minutes early. But I know it is either this or 30 mins late.

  7. meggein says:

    I don’t know if I can reply directly to you @epicpenzzz but I implore you to seek a professional diagnosis if you are truly concerned. It will be the only way you can confirm ot 100%.

    People need to remember that regardless of what diagnosis you have received, it is on a spectrum. When you are dealing with the brain and how it’s wired, it becomes very apparent that neurodivergence of any kind os on a spectrum.

    For example, I was diagnosed as a very young child (parents didn’t tell me until last year I was officially diagnosed & it honestly made my life hell living it in ignorance without help) but I still vary from the next person.
    Some days coffee is great and other days it interacts with other issues I have and I become a jittery mess (as if I wasn’t already one).
    It doesn’t lessen the validity of my diagnosis, just like I have always loved reading and as a child it was an escape. I was never diagnosed dyslexic but I do have some of the symptoms like at 27 telling the time on an analog clock is still almost impossible.

    My point in all of this is, we are all different and that still holds true for when your brain is involved but you will feel much better if you seek a professional opinion.

  8. epicpenzzz says:

    I’m really annoyed with myself. I think I have ADHD, but I’m not sure, and I think I might be reading myself wrong. But every day it’s like I’m being pulled in a hundred different directions. Most of the time when I’m writing, I’ll just think of what I’m writing and skip a couple of sentences and ugh, it’s so frustrating.

    The problem is that I’m not sure I have it. I’ve researched it, and I think I might, but I’m not sure. Only 2 of these don’t app,y to me. I’m not dyslexic (I’m a speed reader) and my siblings don’t have ADHD. I think my dad might,though.

    But every day it’s a thousand distractions trying to get me not to do work, and it’s horrible. I can barely make it through the school day. Coffee is fantastic. I love it. It makes me fell a little better.

    Do you think I might have ADHD? Because nobody else cares.

  9. mvargas says:

    1. #1. I’ve been held up at gunpoint about 5 or 6 times. I was so calm, handled everything so well that some employees didn’t even know we had been robbed.
    2. #3. No one else at the office wants my job or can do it – my assignment is to handle everything that is a priority, rush, VIP, and the boss wants an answer now. I constantly change tasks every 5 or 10 minutes throughout the day. But please don’t give me 4 weeks to complete a report – I keep reminding me that time is running out, and then I always start on the DUE DATE!
    3. #14. I’m famous for getting lost and being late to work. Start work at 8 am, and keep hitting the snooze, until it’s finally 8 am and get up rushing about getting ready for work. As I leave I ponder if I should stop for coffee!
    4. #16. My desk top is never visible-then I get frustrated, throw everything into a big pile and start over
    5. #19. Always talk to myself
    6. #20. Coffee, coffee, coffee and more coffee.

  10. danodea says:

    Oh yeah, visible desktop – it’s either completely visible or completely hidden by piles of paper. The times it’s visible are when I am so frustrated because I can’t find anything, so I go on a filing spree that lasts a couple of hours (there’s that hyperfocus thing again) – plus my wife is always looking for her records, and if I’m not home (pretty common) she gets all frustrated that “everything’s filed under Miscellaneous” 😉

  11. danodea says:

    starrose120, I was the same, always reading because always bored. Reading is an escape for me.

  12. danodea says:

    OK, some few comments.

    “You finish projects on time” and “You have your taxes done and filed ahead of time” – I always finished projects ‘way ahead of time, -or- late. I usually finished days or weeks ahead of time because of hyperfocus. Taxes are just another project; I always do mine as soon as I get everything in, so I’m done by February 10 or so, otherwise I forget.

    “Without taking your eyes off this screen, you can tell me where you left your keys.” – Yes, I can. I can also tell you every one of my bank account numbers, the running balance in all of them, all of my credit card numbers, the page I stopped reading in each of the five books I have active at this time, all 98 of my passwords (I have separate ones for every single website I belong to, run, etc.) – you get the idea. How can I do this? I have a near-eidetic memory. That has nothing to do with the fact I can’t concentrate; memory and concentration are not the same things. Also, I have more than ADHD; I have other things, too.

    “You have a great sense of time, and never get lost.” – I have a lousy sense of time, but I NEVER get lost. I have a running map in my head, never lose my sense of direction. It’s related to my ability to mentally build an “exploded diagram” of any machine I’ve ever seen run. If you want to know who has a similar ability, look up Temple Grandin. She’s better at it than I am, but I’m pretty damned good at reverse-engineering things; it’s what made me successful.

    The last two items should tell you something. Remember, about 30% – 50% of people with ADHD also have autism (depending on which studies you’ve read) – I have both. That’s what made my diagnoses so difficult: people with autism are usually not verbal, or verbal late, or otherwise have intellectual deficits. Not all of us do; some of us are pretty bright. Being intelligent does not preclude ADHD, although it can hide some of the symptoms.

  13. kidk says:

    Woaah. I relate to this so much. As in, relate to the opposites of this list. Especially that last point; while reading the list I reached number 11 or something then I skipped forward then I went back to the first ones, then I came back to the end, and then to where I broke of from (roughly).

    I’ve never actually gone to get myself diagnosed, and thats the only point in here which showed I might not have ADHD. The one that said if you’re curious in finding out. Because recently I had a psychology group project where we were covering ADHD, and we all took this very proper and official ADHD self-test, and I was the last one to finish it, and after that my scores indicated signs of ADHD. I actually thought everybody would get “signs of ADHD”, because thats what I’ve heard abt these “self-administered tests”, but nobody else did.

    That’s why I got a little curious, and then I saw this 23 signs you DO NOT have it post on the web, and I read this and I really related to the opposites of most of these.

    All except the curious one, and the childhood one. Nearly everything else. Oh, and the taxes one, because I’m not an adult yet.

  14. shyle says:

    ..ADHD doesn’t always start from your childhood.

  15. lunacodes says:

    I feel conflicted about this article .. on one hand, I can relate to a lot of the things described. On the other hand, a lot of this doesn’t reflect my experience of ADHD, and if I’d read these things a year ago or even a few months ago, they likely would have stopped me from exploring & learning that I have ADHD (which I only started to do at Age 26).

    I appreciate the intent, but I’m worried that this could keep other people who might have it from taking the steps to identify this & get help for it/take care of themselves.

    (I’m happy to expand on that if desired)

  16. coffeeanalog says:

    Wolfshades, I’m right there with you. There are certain sounds that make me feel like I want to tear my ears off to avoid hearing them! A single person eating in a quiet room makes me so agitated I have to get up and leave.

    I wonder how many other people have it along with their ADHD?

  17. wolfshades says:

    About #21 (I’d love for Dr. Jain to weigh in on this one): I wonder if there’s a correlation between misophonia and ADHD?

    I was diagnosed with ADHD about five or six years ago (after having it all my life, as per #4 above), but also have a problem with sounds. Specifically, people sounds. People eating with their mouths open, or clanking their bowls, or just talking. I often have to turn the volume off on the TV set when a particular person comes on, just so I don’t have to hear their voice.

    One time at work, the number of different sounds that were gong on while I was trying my hardest to work became overwhelming. I felt enraged and I stood up, wanting to hurl my keyboard across the room. It suddenly occurred to me that all these noises were affecting only me, no one else. I sat back down, stunned.

    Since then I’ve been reading up about misophonia. I’m not anxious to get another diagnosis, but this one just seems too intense. Maybe it’s just another feature of ADHD. I don’t know. Just throwing it out there.

  18. gforcewarp9 says:

    Uh…number 25: You completely miss glaring editorial and grammar mistakes you make in your online comments…

    I could go on like this all night.

  19. gforcewarp9 says:

    Number 24: You don’t have the ability to always find the funny–whether it be timely or latent. Whether the timing is completely inappropriate, or just the thing everyone needed–you always can never find the funny.
    ADHD’ers can always find the funny, even in situations that are sometimes hard to find it in–even when the situation is because of some gosh darn monumentally dumb thing they did and they’re completely humiliated. Trust me. I know from experience.

  20. starrose120 says:

    I stumbled across something a couple months ago that made me wonder if I might have ADD or ADHD. Today, my counselor at school said that I should go get tested, because it is very likely that I have ADD or ADHD.
    I was every teacher’s dream student, always polite a teacher’s pet, and usually calm and collected in class…except for the fact that I usually had a book with me that I would read during class if I got bored. I have had an overactive imagination my entire life, I talk with my hands and have been accused of being dramatic. I have learned how to tone things down when I need to and I can sit still, but I hate doing it. I have always hated doing homework and papers (which is bad now that I am in college) I always procrastinate, loud noises and bright flashing lights are too much and will give me a headache after about 10 minutes… I drove my mom nuts as a kid. I have always been extremely picky about what I wear, if a seam sits wrong, the item is tight in one place, restricts my movement, certain fabrics, the tags, anything, I will refuse to wear it even if I think it looks pretty.

    I did read the list in order, but I like to read and this was interesting. I don’t have any reading problems, in fact, I had a very high reading level and was bored to death in school. During tests, I like to bring a small toy to play with or paper to doodle on, or even my computer to type stories on…. I hate handwriting, I never wrote down any of my stories until I got a computer and now I have at least 50 all at the same time and new ideas coming up. My room is always a disaster zone, but I know where most things are, even though I always lose my mailbox key and phone or chargers, they hate me. I am a klutz, if I can run into or trip over something, I will it is only a matter of time.

    I am always talking or singing to myself, most people probably think I am crazy. 🙂 Sorry for the crazy long post and thanks for reading!

  21. lca1980 says:

    I just stumbled across this as part of my in-depth research after my therapist suggested I get assessed. Intellectually, I’ve always been of the somewhat sceptical nature, especially when it comes to diagnosing kids – what 8 year old isn’t hyper? But the more I read, the more I’m convinced. It all resonates. This was particularly interesting, as it highlighted just how different it is for everyone else. I think one of the most difficult parts is accepting that we actually are different. As my therapist keeps trying to convince me, not everyone has a 1000 thoughts a second running through their head.

    What I’m stuck on now is how to bring it up with a family of sceptics. I know my brother was diagnosed as a kid, though once he skipped a grade and was actually challenged intellectually, he was able to adapt. I was never seen as a problem, I got good grades, did every activity under the sun, and had learned from my brother’s experience to just internalise everything. Figuring out some 30 years later that I’m not actually crazy is liberating and frightening, and while I still don’t entirely want to believe it, I think resources like this are incredibly helpful. So thanks for that!

  22. jminn says:

    I love this lol… I didn’t know the tag thing was a thing… interesting.

  23. CherylW says:

    I was able to read the list in order, just had to re-read a few of them a couple of times to make sure I read it right, along with re-typing words continuously to have them spelled right. Oh, and what is a visible desktop and what others consider an “organized room”? Drives me nuts when other half tries to “organize” it for me, and I have to go searching for things. lol

  24. alatha123 says:

    While I have never been officially diagnosed with ADHD, it does run in my family (my son has it, for example) and I am fairly convinced that I am ADHD. My mother once walked into my apartment and asked me, “How did you escape the curse?” She was referring to her’s and my dad’s habit of all the piles of papers (her kitchen table is consumed by a pile of papers and it has been like that for years). I told her that I had not escaped but had developed a defense mechanism over the years of throwing stuff away (gasp!). I also have emotional intensity issues and can react completely out of proportion to the situation. I have never had a psychologist, though, that has ever brought up the possibility of ADHD even though I have been in and out of therapy for years. It wasn’t until I found this site and was looking at all the indicators that I went “ah hah!” Thank you so very much for helping me see that there was other reasons for my problems than lazy, weak, and a failure.

  25. wanderquest says:

    This is one of my favorite posts ever. Visible desktop? Lololol!

  26. lynelle says:

    Overall this is an amazing list and thank you for it! I would have lot of comments and a couple corrections to make but I’m not sure if anyone would be interested. I think the most important point I can make is the following:

    12: You tend to listen more than you talk.
    It is the opposite for children and adolescent females where there is less social freedom in saying seemingly random things in a group of people, or having repetitive movements etc. I read in scientific stuff that for female children and teens it comes across as socially withdrawn or shy so it is easier for it to slip under the diagnosis radar or be misdiagnosed as depression because they seem to be model students but have feelings of alienation from their peers, while males with ADHD are (relatively speaking) bouncing off the walls. I have seen a lot of other symptoms that are different in the teenage years in particular, but I haven’t read scientific evidence of the other symptoms so I will leave those out. Needless to say, by the time women reach adulthood with ADHD, the symptoms completely change.

    A couple other less important points:
    18: Instead of “tend not to overreact” it should be “tend not to overreact to emotional situations” or something that isn’t in conflict with point number 1 on this list.

    19: I don’t talk to myself… I talk to my cat. Get it straight… lol.

  27. karen2163 says:

    Loved # 22 The Closet. My husband’s friends have been saying for years how they want to inherit his closet when he dies! Unfortunately now it’s a whole basement of discarded, broken equipment that ” just needs a new motor or a new charger”.. This is also my husband , a GP, who ” doesn’t have ADHD” just some anger conttol issues and some ODD.
    The kids and I also loved your short clips ” who stole my keys” and the ” door to door salesman/ phone salesman” videos. Classic Dad! Any idea why so many ADHD people marry other ADHDers ?

  28. terrymatlen says:

    Love this, Rick! Right on!

  29. sara says:

    Thank you for writing this! I love that you wrote this from a different perspective. Maybe it will help others understand. I struggle with #18 daily and I don’t think people realize that it is a HUGE part of ADD/ADHD.

  30. pamparampa says:

    “5. You’ve been with the same company more than 6 months.”

    That’s the saddest part of it probably. I’m really well-educated, I just can’t stand working in an office – it’s so incredibly boring and having a boss is a nightmare. I’m considering starting a company because of it.

  31. spngbob says:

    “13. You are curious to find out if you have ADHD.
    I am not the only ADHD adult who has noticed that the people who are the most vehemently opposed to the possibility that they might have this mindset are the ones who seem to have lots of the symptoms. A number of the experts in our videos have told us the same thing.”

    glad you included this. I had to be convinced after diagnosis. it was staring me in the face, everyone else knew(duh!) and to top it off all 3 of my kids are adhd!! but once I was convinced(psychiatrist gave me sari solden’s women and add, I cried when I read it. with joy and relief) treatment was a game changer for me. love love love your site and your fb page! keep up the good work!!

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