How to tell if you have ADHD

Dan Man asks: I think I have ADHD. All the symptoms point to ADHD as I’ve had problems focusing, impulsivity, inability to sit still, and hypersensitivity, but I’m only 13 and my mother laughs at the prospect of me having ADHD. School is becoming really difficult for me and I always say things at the wrong times. Do I have ADHD? Psychologists are out of the question. How do I fix this, or get my mom to believe me if I do?

Hi Dan Man –



Well, I relate.  Lots of people say I have ADHD too.  But we dogs can’t get medication for it, or even psychotherapy.  So instead I just live my life, excited lots of the time, not very focused, and enjoying my life immensely.


Which is a LOT easier for me to do than you, since I’m not in school, and never have to do homework!!!


So here’s the deal with ADHD.  Some people really have it, and lots who get labeled with it don’t have it.  If you truly have it, it’s an actual biological/medical condition, where part of your brain that’s good at focusing and control isn’t working well enough, and needs to be jolted a bit.  So there’s one test you can do, without going to a doctor, to see if this is truly true of you.  And that’s to, before you go to school, have a cup of coffee or strong tea.


Sounds odd, doesn’t it?  “Won’t that make me just more hyper and unfocused?”  Yes it will – if you don’t have ADHD.  If you truly have it, the caffeine in the drink will give that part of your brain the jolt it needs and you’ll actually focus better.  (By the way, though, if you have a dog who you think might have ADHD, do not give him/her caffeine; it’s really bad for our systems).


If you try that coffee/tea experiment and it actually works, you have two options: you could tell your mom about it, and see if she’d be willing to let you talk to your doctor about it (you can probably get medicine for it from your family physician – though a psychiatrist would be more qualified, but it sounds like she won’t go for that!).  OR… you could just keep taking tea or coffee to help you, till you’re a little older and can make these decisions on your own.


But if you try that experiment and it doesn’t help to focus you?  Then you’ll learn something else.  That you are like me!  You’re just an energetic teenager, impulsive, excited, restless, and with way too many things on your mind.  And you know what?  If so, you’ll eventually find that people like you, and dogs like me, have the most fun lives of anyone out there!  (But you will have to learn to train yourself, as Handsome has trained me, to focus better when it’s important).


So try that experiment out, and see what happens.  And if you find that you still need suggestions on how to work better, regardless of whether you have the actual ADHD or are just fun like me — write me back and I’ll send you some ideas.


Thanks!  I’m so glad to talk with someone who understands what it’s like to live with HEY LOOK, A SQUIRREL!!!!




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