Personal Stories of ADHD Diagnosis

ADDitude readers share the moment they knew they had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD).

Child Playing Doctor

The “aha” moment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) diagnosis -- let alone finding the appropriate treatment -- is a long time coming for many with the condition. Some are shocked by it, others surprised, and many have their long-held suspicions confirmed.

Below, our readers share their own “aha” moments, revealing just some of the variety behind the same diagnosis.

Diagnosed as a Kid

"My parents realized I had ADD when I was very young. I was bright, creative, and outgoing, but I forgot to do projects and assignments until the night before they were due. Somehow, I managed to make it through college and earn a degree without treatment. It wasn’t until I decided to return to school to become an engineer, while working full-time, that I realized something had to be done. I have been successful, at my job and in school, ever since." -Dustin H., Tulsa, Oklahoma

"I was first diagnosed in 1989, when I was nine. Not much was known about ADD in women back then, so little was explained to me about the condition. It wasn’t until 2002, when I attended Landmark College and learned more about the topic, that I accepted my diagnosis and went on medication." -Sara, Vermont

Diagnosis: The College Years

"During my first year at college. I lost the safety net of parents, caring teachers, and friends that I had depended on for years. At college, I got locked out of my apartment, lost my shoes, my student ID card, and everything else. When I got home, I demanded to be tested and to get a diagnosis. It was the best thing I ever did." -Kristen, British Columbia

"When I was 18 years old, during my freshman year of college. I’m 27 now and I work as a nurse. I just gave up meds." -An ADDitude Reader

"I always knew there was something different about me. In college, a professor suggested I get tested for a learning disability, even though I got A’s and B’s in grade school. It wasn’t until I was 32 that a doctor finally told me I had ADHD." -Jenny Mooneyhan, Camden, South Carolina

"When I started my third year of college. With the advice of my doctor, I started taking medication soon after I was diagnosed. What a difference!" -An ADDitude Reader

Diagnosed as an ADDult

"I suspected I had ADHD in 2001, but it was only last year that I knew for sure. A co-worker was making an appointment for her adult son to get tested, and I figured it was time for me to find out. I was put on medication a month later." -Krista,Richmond, Virginia

"I was 32. I couldn’t handle the workload of a demanding job, even though I was capable of doing it well. I got treatment right away, and my life got better. I wish I had been diagnosed earlier. My college years would have been so much easier." -Melissa H., Michigan

"When I turned 33 years old. I was relieved to find out that there were explanations for what I was doing and not doing. I bought books about ADD, saw a counselor, learned about medications, and hired a life coach, to help me with my career." -Eugenia Dansinghani, Middletown, Connecticut

"At 37. I started therapy to learn about stress management, and I was diagnosed as having ADHD in the first session! I was shocked, but after reading more about it, I knew that ADHD symptoms had troubled me all my life. Medication and counseling have done wonders for me." -Deena, Austin, Texas

"I didn’t realize I had ADHD until I was in my 40s. A cousin, whose son has ADHD, heard my husband and me arguing, and suspected that I might have it. After reading Driven to Distraction, I went to the doctor and received the diagnosis and treatment." -An ADDitude Reader

"I was diagnosed at 42 -- and I jumped right on treatment. That’s what we ADDers do, right?" -Eva O’Malley, Howell, New Jersey

My Child Has ADD/ADHD? I Do Too!

"I was 31 when my 11-year-old son was diagnosed. But I didn’t get a formal diagnosis and go on medication until I was 41. I thought I could handle ADHD on my own. Boy, was I wrong." -Maria, Oregon

"I wasn’t diagnosed until 42. I was working with high school students who had attention problems, and I realized I had the same problems. I have been medicated since." -Susie Johnson, Branson, Missouri

"After I had kids and had to juggle everyone’s schedule. Even though I was overwhelmed, I still felt the need to volunteer for everything, because I saw myself as Super Mom. I am over 40 now and tired of being pulled in so many directions. I went on medication and found that my compulsion to say yes was greatly reduced. Yeah!" -Rebecca, Downingtown, Pennsylvania

"Right after my son was diagnosed. I had all the symptoms he exhibited. It explained why I couldn’t accomplish much and felt overwhelmed all the time." -Suzy, Connecticut

Read More About ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment

You Know You Have ADD/ADHD When...

Can You Make it Without ADD Medication?

ADHD Diagnosis: Your Step-by-Step Guide


This article appears in the Summer issue of ADDitude.
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