What is the correct test to determine ADHD in adults?

Hi everyone,

My husband went and found a testing center that took our insurance without getting any recommendations from any professionals that we trust, and we just got the results today.  The test they gave him to determine ADHD was the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV).  Is this the test that is common in testing for ADHD?  I've spoken to a couple of people who don't seem to think it is, yet this "professional" said that based on the results there is no way that my husband has ADHD. 

When I asked her about her experience with working with adults with ADHD, I didn't get a straight answer and she kept referring to the behavior of children with ADHD with which she's worked.

Somehow I'm having trouble believing that a test of IQ is the end all/be all final word in whether my husband has ADHD or not.  Can anyone confirm one way or another?

If he doesn't have ADHD, then I really just have to conclude that he doesn't give a crap about me...

Thank you in advance!

I learned in Psychology this

I learned in Psychology this past summer that the test you've listed above is indeed a test for IQ.

I have no idea what the test is called, but it cost us $40 and it had a part my husband filled out about himself, a part I filled out about him as an 'observer' and another part he filled out about himself when he was a child. It asked the kinds of questions you would expect. (i.e. do you have trouble finishing projects? do you talk too much? do you feel sometimes like you're driven by a motor?)

Just don't give up. I hope you can convince your husband that they've done the wrong test..or at least to my knowledge. I know it is to test for IQ..I can't see how it could be used to diagnose (or rule out) ADD. ?? Did this 'professional' tell you it was a test for ADD? I might demand my money back. Even if the argument is that he scored 'too high' on certain parts of the test, therefore ruling out ADD, it is still not a good diagnostic tool as far as I can tell. (did a little research)

Also, I remember it can be

Also, I remember it can be used for teachers to test children (another version of it..this one isn't for young children) to determine where children might have weaknesses in 'learning abilities'.

A bit of Googling...


I did a little Googling ("Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV)" to test for ADHD) and found this on Google books:

"Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) - Digit Span Subtest

This subtest assesses working verbal memory. The examinee receives increasingly longer strings of numbers and must repeat them back to the examiner (in the same order on th first test, in revers order on the second test). The test allows comparison of scores to a normative population, sorted by age group. The same caution that applies to the CPT applies here - the test is not accurate enough for clinical diagnosis to recommend its routine clinical use." (bold mine)  This is from the book ADHD in Adults by Russell A. Barkley.


I can't really find anything else that joins these two terms.  Hoping of course that Melissa, or someone else with the actual expertise will chime in here...

fuzzylogic72's picture


Here is a reasonably exhaustive list of the current methods available for the diagnosis of adhd. You need to find a psychiatrist (preferable for any insurance or related needs in terms of paperwork), or psychologist. Whichever one you get, be sure they have a track record dealing with ADULT adhd. You can take the names of the tests in the link below, but if they are competent, they will likely have their own preference/combinations of methods. This single test you mentioned is certainly not exhaustive in the diagnosis of adhd. I have heard good things about the Wender Utah rating Scale (I believe it is in the link list).

Any test is limited in it's scope, so the most reliable is the professional diagnosis from a psychiatrist experienced in the field.

Good luck!



Thank you, good people!!!

I really appreciate all of the feedback more than you could know!  I feel so isolated in dealing with this, as there aren't many people that I can talk to about it...at least not ones that I trust would understand, as everyone thinks of my husband as "such a great guy!"  Right...they don't live with him and deal with him and his chaos on a daily basis.  It really sucks to feel so alone & helpless in all of this, so I want to thank you all for your kindness in responding!

ADHD testing and symptoms

Since learning about it, I suggest you keep in mind that ADHD differs in expression from person to person--the details change but there are some things in common you should look for.  Melissa and many others on this site make another good point often overlooked; ADHD often has some other problem complicating it as well.  Co morbid conditions they are called like  OCD or depression, gambling or shopping addiction, computer addiction, exercise addiction and so on.  A therapist might solve one of these problems and overlook the ADHD.  Worse, the cure of one "problem" may wind up simply being transferred. Like curing her of compulsive shopping and she takes up exercise.  How can you criticize somebody working to "get healthier"?  But it can really be just a substitute hyper focus, but nobody will listen and she will just deny it because "I don't shop any more or spend too much money." 

Make sure the therapist has experience in working with ADULT ADHD!  

I could not believe my wife of 31 years had ADHD.  She had advanced degrees and a lot of accomplishments that took a great deal of attention to detail over long periods.  How could that be attention deficit???!!!

I learned that is one of the primary universal symptoms of ADHD.  They can hyper focus on something for a while and accomplish more than the average person (because we can't hyper focus like that) but then I realized I was taking care of all the other things in life while she hyper focused.  I got the extra child care duties and household chores while she "concentrated on getting her MBA" so she make more money.  I was proud of her graduation, but nobody complimented me on how hard I worked so she could get that degree!  That took a while for me to get over. 

Does she have piles of important papers everywhere?  Is her office neat or cluttered?  Does she do everything at the last minute?  Does she have a nervous habit like constantly tapping her foot or fingers?  Can't sit still? I don't know if it's ADHD or not, but does she bite her nails all the time or "trim" them all the time until they're nubs?

Everybody loves her and you think you're just along as an accessory? She gets really loud and cheerfully domineering at parties/conversations even if she's not drinking?

Despite all the accomplishments, she never quite seems to be successful?

"Off stage" at home she's really defensive about 1) money 2) sex 3) time spent on the latest hyperfocus rather than your relationship?

IF SO then I don't think you need to worry about more tests.  If they are not ADHD, they might as well be and the solution is the same.  Either leave or insist they take drugs (and you have to make sure they do) and go to regular therapy. 

You will need therapy too, because it took me a long time to get past resentment to the point I could even begin to take Melissa's advice on how to restore and live with ADHD. 

You have to get past resentment for yourself even if you divorce and you never see her/him again or decide to stay, relax and work with the good that is there--and a lot of times you have been so swollen up with self righteous resentment the good is hard see. 

Some people here talk about all the years they "wasted."  My wife and I split, too, but I don't think I "wasted" those years.  I have two admirable grown sons (yes one with ADHD and I make sure he knows it, stays with treatment and anybody he dates knows it too!)  A three year old granddaughter I adore and a lot of good memories, too. 

You don't believe anybody who tells you they were "happily married 31 years" never had a conflict or problem.  So I don't believe anybody who says they "wasted 31 years" or however many (unless they stayed with somebody who was abusive, had addictions etc.).  When we had good times, they were not just good times, they were great times!  That is part of the attraction of being with an ADHD person--they are just so fascinating and admirable in so many instances you just have step back and be proud they are your spouse.  That's why you married them.  It won't save your marriage necessarily, but it will save you from wasting another 31 years of self inflicted bitterness.

I see I answered more than I meant to but I hope it helps.