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Can You Detect When Someone Else Has ADHD?

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 (ADHD), thinks she has 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? […]

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 (ADHD), thinks she has 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 ADHD, and I invited her to an 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 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 ADHD?” Natalie asked.

“Yes, he does,” I answered truthfully, although I hadn’t told Nat that the coffee group was related to 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 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 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 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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  1. I haven’t done any research or know for sure wether thats how gaydar works but my personal theory is gaydar is just a stomach feeling like when you have a feeling that something bad is going to happen it has been proven that that is because you’ve had similar expirience that ended badly. My personal theory is that thats how gaydar works and you are just subconsciously comparing how someone acted before you came out and i personally expirienced something similar after being depressed and would get a stomach feeling when someone was unhappy or had had a scaring expirience they lived with the consequences of on a daily basis. It eventually became more conscious and I know what were the signs I looked for subconsciously but i also expirience some sort of ADHDdar but I think its just noticing similar behaviour

  2. Many of my fellow ADHD friends and I could tell that each other had ADHD within just a few minutes of meeting, even if it was from across the room before we were introduced. It’s not 100% accurate but it’s definitely happened very frequently especially in my childhood. I always attributed this to subconscious observation of similar behavior. It’s like a gut feeling- you “just know”.

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