26yo reading psych eval from 15 – feeling hopeless

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Adults Emotions & Shame 26yo reading psych eval from 15 – feeling hopeless

Viewing 9 reply threads
  • Author
    • #186496
      crash override

      I wrote this out once before and it was a little bit more long winded but it failed to post for some reason so forgive me if this is a little brief.

      I was diagnosed with ADD when I was 15 years old after 3 days of psychology testing and a formal ‘psycho-educational evaluation’. I never gave the report much credence because my parents were in denial about the results and thought that the doctor was a quack. My dad seemed to think that I was just lazy and somehow convinced my mom to get tested so I could “get out of working hard”. My parents are both alcoholics and my dad used to scream at me for hours when I would get Cs and on one occasion beat me for a bad report card (never failed a class in high school). I should also mention that I went to a highly competitive private college prep high school for what that’s worth.

      Anyways flash forward to college and I’m failing out my freshman year. I go to the psych on campus and show her the report. She then prescribes me Adderall and my grades shoot up and I’m able to limp my way through my undergrad and achieve a BA in Psychology. It really was by the hair of my teeth however because I could not pass a language class to save my life. After failing Spanish 2 for the 3rd time, I was able to give my report to the office for students with disabilities. They told me upfront that ADHD alone would not cut it and that I would need a real learning disability to qualify for a substitution. I showed her my report and she immediately granted it to me.

      This whole time I had never looked over the report myself because I was honestly afraid of the results. The psych had told me that I had ADD and that medication did not work, I needed instead to buy his expensive program (which my parents actually did and obviously it did not work). I got a new psych a month ago and started back on the Adderall which is really helping me manage every area of my life. I honestly can not believe I managed to make it through the past few years without it. Anyways, before I sent the report over I read it over for the first time and was horrified. The report says that I have a 90 IQ and that in addition to ADHD that I am severely impaired in measures of both short term memory and processing speed. Both of these scores were in the 70 IQ range. Additionally the report also outlined that in addition to ADHD I also have the following learning disorders – cognitive processing speed, visual processing: visual sequencing, and short term memory.

      I set up an appointment with a therapist to talk about this with and I also am meeting with my psych in a month to discuss the report. Basically I feel completely crushed reading this report. I always knew that I was no genius, but I did not think I was plain stupid or ‘special ed’. I feel very hurt and betrayed by my parents for hiding this for me and placing such high expectations on me over the years. I honestly do not know how to feel but it hurts. I feel as if I am doomed to work crappy sales jobs for the rest of my life and that I will never be able to achieve or learn anything greater.

      Anyone else have a similar experience?

    • #186506

      I would take IQ scores with a pinch of salt, depending on the test they are bias to white middle class males.

      And I remember reading a study about when people with ADHD were allowed to take untimed IQ tests they score the same or better than NT peers, this was attributed to working memory and distraction issues.

      However, as your assessment identified quite a few areas of weakness that are linked to problems found in people with dyslexia have you ever been assessed for it?

      I was diagnosed with dyslexia waaaaay before ADHD and it is similar in that there are a spectrum of problems; for me for example at 9 years old my spelling was in the 19th percentile and my maths in the 94th and my reading in the 78th.

      I still cant spell, does it mean I couldn’t win a spelling bee? If I really put in the work maybe I could I just don’t want to!

      In any case your report was done many years ago by someone who doesn’t know you, and IQ isn’t set in stone if you practice you can increase your score for an IQ test.

      What I would think about for yourself now is what you want to do in life and how understanding your issues and finding accommodations for them will help you get to where you want to be.

    • #186518
      crash override

      Well… Thing is I am a middle class white male ahhaa. Or at least that was how I was brought up.

      I don’t think I have dyslexia. I always received high scores in reading comp and writing, even at a young age.

      I just feel like the IQ test just comfirms the anxieties I’ve had for years about not being good enough. Of course this is something better reserved for a therapist.

      I work in sales and I actually really like it. It’s a great line of work for someone with ADHD. That said, I really don’t want to do it forever and have been trying to teach myself some data science skills online and have been frustrated with it.

      I guess talking to a therapist about how to manage my disability would be helpful.

      Self knowledge is really important and I’m glad I know all of this. It really just feels like a huge hit to my ego.

    • #186562
      Dr. Eric

      You have a challenge. There is a roadmap for success. The road may not be easy, but at least you have some maps on which direction to start.

      Think of Google Maps, sometimes you need to make some movement before it recalibrates and gives you a better direction. It will never do that if you stay still.

      As an educational psychologist and an administrator who used to contract with private providers, I would love to make a few observations.

      – Remember that an assessment is a “snapshot in time” that is how you scored that day. I have had students for whom their scores were a better measure of grief, illness, or sobriety than what the manual says it meant. A statistician once stated, all models are wrong, but some are useful.

      – Like any profession, the quality of providers varies. Heck, I don’t even like comparing my reports on my worse day than on my best days.

      – Avoid any conversation of “assessments are awesome” versus “assessments are useless” nuance and complexity seem to be lost in today’s world.

      – When it comes to private providers/therapists, I tend to avoid unitaskers… unless the assessor’s only. If you get an assessment from the local biofeedback guy, biofeedback will be what you need. If you get assessed by the anti-medication guru, medication won’t help you…

      Here is an example of using vision therapy… I had two local vision therapy assessors in town from a previous position.
      Assessor A – Was an Ophthalmologist at the local medical school and a renowned researcher on when VT was appropriate versus not appropriate. He recommended vision therapy for about 1/3 of my referrals. The others were a husband wife team who provide most of the VT in the area. They have recommeded VT for all of my referrals minus one… a parent who has been arrested by the FBI for insurance fraud and ran over a teacher’s foot with her car…. so, go ahead and do that math…

    • #186651

      I am incredibly sorry you received such poor treatment from your psych; nothing makes me more angry that to hear stories like this. I am a psychologist and supervise doctoral students doing ADHD/LD evaluations at my university clinic. These types of tests results can seem horrifying if you don’t have the expertise in interpreting the scores. It is the job of the evaluator to put the results in context, using language that a lay person can understand both in the report and in a feedback session with the client. I am sorry that was not done for you.

      First of all, scores on an IQ test do not take into account all aspects of intelligence. Additionally, IQ scores must be interpreted in context of a person’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses– as well as his functioning in the world. Low scores in short term memory (working memory) and processing speed are typical in people who have ADHD –that is part of what we look for in making a diagnosis. This does NOT mean you have low intelligence. My guess is that the verbal and perceptual (non-verbal) reasoning index scores were higher–and those scores say more about your ability to learn and achieve.

      It is important to know that not all counselors or psychologist have adequate training in ADHD or in interpreting test scores. I encourage you to find someone who does have that expertise to sit down with you and go over your report so you have a better understanding of what it actually means and to discuss recommendations for learning strategies.

      I don’t know if you have done any reading about ADHD, but my favorite book is “More attention, Less deficit” by Ari Tuckman.

      Warm regards,


    • #186700
      crash override

      Thank you so much for your helpful responses!

      I actually have a relationship with a new psych who is going to go through the old report with me. He’s really the person that prompted me to dig up and dust off the report in the first place. I am very lucky to be sober (two years sober now) and have a job that provides me with health insurance so I can get the treatment that I need. Before that it was for sure out of the question. *for what it’s worth I did not start drinking until well after that evaluation.

      I also scheduled an appointment with a therapist and I’m starting sessions with him next week. I’m feeling way better about things now. There was just a certain “shock” factor when I first looked over the report but now I’m just glad to know that I’m not lazy, stupid, useless, or worthless – I just have a learning disability and that’s ok. I actually feel like this will be good for me and that I’ll be able to make a lot of progress from here.

      My current psych told me that all of the tests he preformed were legitimate, but now that you mention it the conclusions he draws from the report seem pretty ridiculous. In so many words he basically said in the report that my poor academic performance is most likely a result of a ‘cognitive deficit’ and not ADHD. I also remember him recommending that I transfer to an easier school and attend a less competitive university which I found to be particularly insulting.

      I just added “More attention, less deficit” to my reading list. Thank you so much for the recommendation!

    • #186812
      Aaron Fire

      I work in sales and I actually really like it. It’s a great line of work for someone with ADHD. That said, I really don’t want to do it forever and have been trying to teach myself some data science skills online and have been frustrated with it.

    • That’s what matters. I’m a guy who got diagnosed a lot later than you. My advice is to focus on financial security. Get that nailed down. Find a job you enjoy. Then see what makes you happy. The rest? Forget it.
  • #186876

    You write like a very articulate intelligent person. You got a BA in psychology and love your job in sales, you’re doing fantastic. In fact you’re making me feel very hopeful for my 14 year old son.

    He just got assessed and got similar results. 2%ile in working memory and 5%ile in processing speed. I was horrified initially but feeling far more optimistic now. Like you, he is an intelligent thoughtful person and what will really work in his favour is that he is willing to implement suggestions made to him. For example he’s been doing school work in 20 min blocks the last week to a timer and it’s working really well.

    He hasn’t got the ADD diagnosis yet, but psych is referring us to psychiatrist and feels confident that he’ll get that. Has already mentioned medication a few times which initially horrified me too but am feeling more and more positive about it all. thank god we found out, he was diagnosed with dyslexia years ago but has been masking how hard he has been struggling.

    I’m so sorry you had such bad treatment with your initial diagnosis. Sounds like you’ve managed very well though in what has been an uphill battle.

    • #186900
      Dr. Eric

      Kerry C

      This is my favorite comment that I have read in a while.
      Great job seeing the strengths in the post and pointing them out!

  • #186886
    crash override

    I appreciate your kind words!

    I also do the pomodoro technique with a timer. I do cycles of 25 minutes “on” followed by brief 5 minute breaks. It really helps me from feeling overwhelmed and prevents me from getting frustrated when preforming tasks that require a lot of focus.

    Your son is very lucky to have supportive parents! I more or less begged my mom to get me tested at 15 and even then she had to fight quite a bit with my dad before they both agreed. I could go into the various home issues but long story long, both of my parents have substance abuse/alcohol problems and are very dysfunctional in their own right. They divorced when I was 16 which was honestly a god send but they still have their issues. Growing up in that environment, especially with ADD was not easy at all.

    I would say that I wish I had been put on medication earlier but I honestly do not know if my outcome would have been any better. Unlike your son I was very unwilling to accept suggestions and very rebellious. I managed to avoid getting into any actual trouble, but I did my fair share of drinking and drugging (hell raising) which in retrospect could have just been self medicating.

    With little to no support from my family, things really did not get better for me until I made the decision to get sober and start accepting help (for all of my problems not just addiction).

    With a supportive family and an open mind your son is easily a decade ahead of me in maturity. I’m sure he will be just fine 🙂

  • #187435

    I am learning so much from these threads and this forums.

  • Viewing 9 reply threads

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.