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To Sam

ADD Testing?

Hey Sam,

I don't want to self diagnose myself with anything but I'm pretty sure I have a lot of the symptoms for ADD and I understand that if I actually did have it would explain so much about me and would be a great answer for a lot of the questions I have. However, my parents believe I don't have it and won't let me get tested.

I'm 13 years old and a lot of my friends have recommended I go to the doctors myself without my parents and a few have offered to take me whilst my parents are under the belief we're just playing out. I hate going behind my parents back but getting tested for this would mean so much for me and my mental health and that I actually have a reason for all of this going on with me instead of confused thoughts and intense anger that nobody actually understands what and why i'm doing something.

I want to know if this is actually possible for me to do at this age by myself. I also would like to know the steps of being diagnosed if I can. This would awfully mean a lot to me because I've been wondering if I have it or if I don't on and off for a long time now and it would be great if you could answer my letter with some information.


Ask Sam


Hi there,

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) symptoms can include problems with organising tasks, forgetting things and having a short attention span. It’s a type of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) where you might struggle more with attention and concentration and less with being hyperactive or impulsive.

You might feel confused about why you behave in certain ways and feel angry or frustrated when it’s difficult to follow instructions. You might also   lose things a lot of the time or make mistakes in your school work. Finding everyday things difficult can affect your mood and self-esteem, especially when you don’t have support. Remember, it’s always okay to ask for help from an adult you trust when you’re struggling.

If you have some of the symptoms of ADD or ADHD you can see your doctor. If you go on your own, your doctor will decide whether you’re able to fully understand decisions about your health and any treatment you’ll need. They’ll tell you what they need to share with your parent or guardian now and anything they might need to share with them in the future.

At first your doctor might monitor your symptoms for a few weeks to see if things change or stay the same. If things don’t improve, your doctor should refer you to see a specialist for an assessment. The specialist will check if there’s anything else that could be causing your symptoms and they’ll ask you questions about how your symptoms affect everyday activities. They will want to know when your symptoms are worse so it can help to keep a diary so they can see if there are any patterns. They’ll also speak to your teacher and your parent or carer about things they’ve noticed so that important information isn’t missed.

If you’re diagnosed with ADD your treatment could include medication, therapy or social skills training. Sometimes you might see a dietician if food or drinks seem to trigger your symptoms getting worse.

If you find that you’re easily distracted and move from task to task it can help to plan your activities and break tasks into smaller more manageable chunks. You can also ask for help at school - speak to your head of year, pastoral worker or special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) about extra support and how to structure your day so that you know what’s expected.

Watch out for feeling frustrated or overwhelmed and try to arrange social events at times you're less likely to be tired or hungry. Schedule time to wind down before bed, turn off devices and the TV at least an hour before bedtime and stick to a routine of going to bed and getting up at the same times are all things that you can do to help yourself alongside any treatment you’re getting.

I hope this advice has helped. And remember, you can always talk to a Childline counsellor.

Take care


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