Getting Diagnosed with ADHD
Hopefully you read the journey of what led me to consider getting evaluated here. Getting diagnosed was a whole new journey.
I started by asking a friend of mine who also has ADHD about where to start. She suggested that I start with my primary care doctor. I don't have a primary care doctor, and after learning my insurance doesn't care whether I have a referral or not, they will not cover it either way, I decided to just cut to the chase and book an appointment with an ADHD specialist directly.
My diagnosis was a long process including a full psychological evaluation, questionnaires and a QB test. Sometimes people can have other conditions that present similar symptoms to ADHD but they do not actually have ADHD. The psychological evaluation helps to ensure I don't have a different condition that masks itself to look like ADHD.
Most of the process of being diagnosed was boring, so I'll just cut to the interesting part, which for me was the QB test. This quantitative test is an FDA approved quantitative test to check for ADHD. The results alone are not enough for a diagnosis but the test helps quantify certain symptoms of ADHD in a way that is less subjective than a questionnaire.
Here's how the QB test works, you enter a room, they strap a headband on you, and there's a motion detector pointed at you. They give you a very menial task to do for twenty minutes. The task was to click a button every time two same shapes of the same color show up on the computer screen in a row. The screen would flash either a blue circle, red circle, blue triangle or a red triangle. This test measures how much you move over four different quadrants of time during the test, how many errors you make (both wrong answers and failure to click), and your reaction time from seeing the shapes to clicking. Then they take the results and compare them to data for nonADHD people of your same gender and of the same age range to see if there are any indicators for ADHD.
When I finished taking the test myself, I thought I hit it out of the park. I remember feeling kind of stupid for wasting our time and money thinking I had ADHD. The test was really easy and there was no way I didn't do well. I was shocked when I actually saw my results. I scored in the 99th percentile for hyperactivity. I scored in the 97th percentile for reaction time variance. And although every single answer I gave was correct, there were about 50 times I was supposed to answer and didn't (I was too off in lala land to even realize it), so I also scored in the 99th percentile for inattentiveness. I scored about three standard deviations from the norm in all categories, which helped us come to the conclusion that I do have ADHD-C.
For those of you who don't know there is no longer a different diagnosis for ADD vs. ADHD, rather they are all called ADHD now and the type changes. There is ADHD-PI for the primarily inattentive type, ADHD-HI for the primarily hyperactive/impulsive type and ADHD-C for the combined type--which is me!
One of the parts of the diagnosis that was most interesting to me was when they showed me the graph of my movements vs. the graph of the movements of most people. I was SHOCKED to see that most people barely move. I haven't thought of myself as too hyperactive but to see the difference was huge for me. Hyperactivity is such a part of my normal life that I can't even imagine what it's like or how it's possible to not move so much. It seems surreal to me that others are able to do so.
The experience reminded me much of my first time getting glasses. I remember squinting at the board in my classroom often and wondering here and there if something was wrong with me, but I ended up just assuming that it was normal--that everyone squinted. Then, when I finally was told I needed glasses it not only validated my hardship of seeing but it also BLEW MY MIND when I put on my glasses for thew first time. I did a literal happy dance. I could really see. I had no idea life could be so much better. So here I am now with my ADHD diagnosis, about to put on the glasses for the first time and I'm really hoping that life will surprise me with how great it is on the other side.