Ask the Experts

Who Should Evaluate Me for Adult ADHD?

“I think I have ADHD and I want to get an evaluation. Should I go to a doctor who evaluates adults, or can I go to a practitioner who evaluates children?”

You ask a good question. Most physicians who work with children and adolescents are familiar with ADHD. Some physicians who work with adults may not be. If you have a family physician, call and explain that you think you might have ADHD. Ask if he or she is comfortable evaluating you for this disorder, or if a referral to someone else might be better. You could also ask your child’s physician about an evaluation for yourself.

The key to determining whether the physician is knowledgeable about ADHD is how he or she establishes the diagnosis. The first step is to confirm the presence of one or more of the behaviors associated with ADHD; that is, a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity. He should then document that these behaviors are chronic (you have presented these behaviors before age 12) and pervasive (they are present in two or more settings – home, work, with friends or relatives, or in other activities).

Do not accept comments like, “Well, it runs in families, so let’s try medication and see if it helps you.” The physician should establish a chronic and pervasive history of the presence of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity with you.