Can You Detect When Someone Else Has ADHD?

My daughter, Natalie, thinks she can spot others who, like her, have ADD/ADHD. Is there such a thing as ADHD radar?
ADHD Parenting Blog | posted by Kay Marner

Maybe you’ve heard of gaydar, the alleged ability to spot people who are gay or lesbian. Well, my 10-year-old daughter, Natalie, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), thinks she has ADD/ADHD radar, or ADHD-dar, the ability to identify others who have the condition. But is there really such a thing? Could Natalie have it?

Not long ago a local mom contacted me via this blog, hoping to connect with other parents of kids with ADD/ADHD, and I invited her to an ADD/ADHD mom’s coffee that a group of us have started to hold twice monthly. Her son, N. (name has been changed), had recently met Nat’s best friend Harry (it’s a small ADD/ADHD world!). Natalie met N. once, having arrived at Harry’s house to play just as N. was leaving. After the mom’s coffee, I told Nat that I had met N.’s mother.

“Does N. have ADD/ADHD?” Natalie asked.

“Yes, he does,” I answered truthfully, although I hadn’t told Nat that the coffee group was related to ADD/ADHD.

“I thought so,” she said.

Maybe it shouldn’t surprise me that she could spot a similarly-wired individual, but for some reason, it did.

Flash forward to last weekend. All weekend, Nat had wanted to play with K. (name has been changed), a girl who lives in our neighborhood, but K. was away at her grandparents’ house. She finally returned home late Sunday afternoon and was able to play at our house for a couple of hours.

The doorbell rang a few minutes after 6. K.’s mom was there. It was time for K. to go home. Natalie and K. finished the Wii game they were in the middle of, and we rounded up K.'s coat and shoes. Nat had been asking me off and on for months if K. has ADD/ADHD, and I always said, “Not that I know of.” Finally, her need for a definitive answer got the best of her. Just as K. and her mom were saying good-bye, Nat asked K.’s mom, “Does K. have ADD/ADHD?”

Oh, gosh, I thought. What a rude question. Will K.’s mom be insulted?

She was silent for a second before answering, with a smile, “No, she just has a lot of energy.” If she was upset by the question, she didn’t show it. Nat and I would have a talk about social boundaries later!

We thanked K. for coming, said our good-byes, and closed the door. Nat said, “I still think K. has ADD/ADHD. I think they just don’t know it yet.”

Who knows -- she might be right! Maybe she has a future as a psychologist!

Do you believe people with ADD/ADHD have the ability to detect other ADHDers?

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