The Adult ADHD Self Report Scale (ASRS) Screener: What You Need To Know

October 29, 2021

The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS) Screener is a questionnaire used by healthcare professionals to diagnose ADHD in adults. It is typically the first step in the official ADHD diagnosis process.

This initial screening's goal is to determine whether a more in-depth clinician interview is required.

The questions of the Adult Symptom Rating Scale describe manifestations of ADHD symptoms in adults based on the DSM-IV criteria.

In this article, you'll learn what you need to know about the Screener and its role in the diagnosis process.  We'll also discuss some pros and cons of the ASRS and how it differs from other diagnostic tools.

We know how daunting reading articles from start to finish can be, especially when you have ADHD, so we added this clickable Table of Contents to easily navigate our articles 😉 :

1) Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS): The Basics

2) How to use the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale

3) What do the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale Results mean?

4) The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale vs Other ADHD Diagnosis Tools

Conclusion

No time to read this article?

--> I want to download the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale NOW. 

Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS): The Basics

What is the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale?

The Adult ADHD Self Report Scale (ASRS) Screener is the first step in the official ADHD diagnosis process. It is based on the criteria described in the DSM-IV.

What is the purpose of the Adult ADHD Self Report Scale Screener?

The Adult ADHD Self Report Scale Screener was designed as a fast way to get patients closer to an accurate diagnosis.

The Screener can be helpful for two main reasons:

1) People with a high probability of having ADHD may get access to adequate treatment faster without needing an long and rigorous additional assessments.

2) People with a very low probability of having ADHD are more likely to get an accurate diagnosis. Mental health conditions are often comorbid, so removing possibilities is helpful to pinpoint the main root cause of health issues.

What is the importance of the Adult ADHD Self Report Scale to diagnose adult ADHD? Why use it?

The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale fills a gap between assessment and treatment.

It is also a good tool to avoid getting too caught up in comorbid mental health issues which can complicate the diagnosis process.

ASRS provides an easy way to assess the likeliness of ADHD in adults. Low scores indicating low risk and high scores indicating high risk of Adult ADHD.

As such it has an important role in the ADHD diagnosis process, which makes it a valuable tool. The more people with ADHD get diagnosed the better they'll manage their symptoms.

Who can use the ASRS Symptom Checklist as a tool to screen for ADHD in Adults?

The Adult ADHD Self Report Scale (ASRS) Screener can be used by health care professionals, including mental health clinicians or primary care providers to help screen for ADHD.

Typically, Licensed Medical Doctor (LMD) or Physician Assistant (PA). Other healthcare professionals that could diagnose include Psychiatrists, Neuropsychologists and Therapists.

Though it may not replace one on one interviews meant to assess overall wellbeing, it can better inform them as to whether more time should be spent assessing potential issues.

Are you experiencing ADHD symptoms? Read my article Understand all the Official & Unofficial ADHD Symptoms

How long does it take to complete the adult ADHD self-report scale?

The Adult ADHD Self Report Scale (ASRS) Screener takes about five minute to complete.

The questions are designed to stimulate dialogue between a patient and his doctor to help confirm if they may be suffering from the symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Of course that conversation may, and really should, take longer when appropriate to ensure the right steps are taken based on the ASRS results.

Where can I take the adult ADHD self-report scale?

The ASRS Screener is typically completed at a primary care location, during an appointment with a health care professional, like a mental health clinician or a primary care provider.

Can I fill out the adult ADHD self-report scale the by myself?

Yes and no 😅. As part of the official diagnosis it has to be completed with a licensed healthcare professional that can take the required next steps.

That being said the adult ADHD self-report scale (ASRS) screener symptom checklist is widely available online. You can download or print a version here and fill it out yourself. 😊

Who should try the adult ADHD screener?

Anyone that has the slightest doubt they might have ADHD should consider trying the adult ADHD self-report scale or other similar tools designed to provide answers.

Many adults are suffering from ADHD and have no idea that's the reason of their impairment. 😢 They might not have been diagnosed yet due to insufficient medical coverage or lack of awareness about ADHD.

Even though it's not an evaluation for a diagnosis it can be a good way to identify those who might benefit from more careful attention.

Mental Health is so complex on its own, don’t let other factors keep you from getting answers that could make all the difference in your life.

Is the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale a measure of severity or a diagnostic tool?

Technically the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale is neither. It should only be used to assess the likelihood someone has ADHD.

That being said it is usually the first step of the official diagnosis process and the score is often correlated to the severity of ADHD.

Do you have to be diagnosed with ADHD in order to take the ASRS questionnaire?

No, the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale is typically the first step in the ADHD diagnosis process.

How to use the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale

How to use the ASRS questionnaire?

If you suspect you may have ADHD, the ASRS is an assessment tool used to diagnose adults with ADHD. How does it work?

1) Take the test by filling out the Score column.

There are 18 questions divided in two parts to answer with the frequency each event tend to happen in your life.

  • Never = 0
  • Rarely = 1
  • Sometimes = 2
  • Often = 3
  • Very often =4

2) Add your results to calculate your score.

The score for Part A correspond to the Inattentive presentation of ADHD in adults.

The score for Part B correspond to the Hyperactive/Impulsive presentation of ADHD in adults.

3) Compare your score to the score chart and see how likely you are to have ADHD.

What do ASRS scores mean?

-0 to 16 means you are Unlikely to have ADHD

-17 to 23 means you are Likely to have ADHD

-24 or greater means you are Highly Likely to have ADHD

What does the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale measure?

The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale is a questionnaire that measures the frequency of ADHD symptoms in adults to determine the likeliness of an ADHD Diagnosis.

How does the Adult ADHD Self Report Scale (ASRS) Screener work?

By measuring the frequency of the ADHD symptoms in adults described in the DSM-V, the ASRS determines the likelihood of an ADHD diagnosis.

How do I know if I might have adult ADHD?

Well, start by learning about ADHD! It is the best first step to figure out whether you have ADHD as an adult. So you've come to the right place. 😉

Then feel free to use the free assessments you can find online like the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale to figure out how likely you are to have ADHD.

Unfortunately the only way to know for sure and have treatment options is to go through the official diagnosis process.

That entire journey can feel strenuous but it is important because it'll ensure you'll get the right diagnosis.

Everybody is different so there is not a one-size fit all diagnosis process or treatment option that'll work for everyone.

That's the issue with our time. We have both people that do not know about ADHD that should get diagnosed, and people that think they have Adult ADHD when in fact it's something else that should be treated differently.

What does the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale Results mean

Do your Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale Results automatically mean you have or don't have ADHD?

No it does not. It's important to remember that your ASRS score doesn't automatically mean you have, or don't have, ADHD.

The ASRS is not a diagnostic tool so it does not guarantee diagnosis.

There is a lot more that goes into an ADHD diagnosis and healthcare professionals are trained to assess symptoms, impairments and patient history as it relates to ADHD.

That process is subjective though, so we do advise to prepare for it by understanding the ADHD symptoms and assessing which ones you have, the severity of your symptoms and list as many examples as you can for each symptom (from both childhood & adulthood).

If you are feeling overwhelmed like I used to before my diagnosis I recommend you check out my "Could it be ADHD Workbook". I created it after my official ADHD diagnosis at 29, to help fellow adults with ADHD not yet diagnosed in that process.

The workbook details every symptom and allows you to rate the severity of each and write down your own experience. That thorough assessment will enable you to better understand yourself, figure out how likely you are to have ADHD, whether an official Diagnosis might be worth it for you and most importantly be very helpful to elicit meaningful conversations with your primary care doctor.

Can you trust the Adult ADHD Self Report Screener to diagnose adult ADHD without meeting with your doctor?

Short answer is no. It is not 100% accurate, and was designed as a tool to be used by a healthcare professional.

That being said depending on what you are looking for you may still find it useful.

If you are looking for an official diagnosis to get proper treatment, and possibly medication, then self-diagnosing yourself as ADHD with the ASRS and demanding Adderral or Ritalin to your doctor will not work.

The official diagnosis process has been designed for a reason, and if that's what you are looking for then you need to follow the steps of your health care system.

Being educated about these steps and preparing for them is recommended though so you can have the best outcome.

If you are just starting your questioning around ADHD and you are not looking for an official diagnosis or treatment, then by all means feel free to try the ASRS or any other ADHD test of your choice.

Familiarizing yourself with the ADHD symptoms, assessing how often you feel them, how they can be an impairment of your life are all important steps in your journey that will help you be the best version of yourself whether you have ADHD or not. ✨

The more you learn about ADHD the more equipped you'll be to make informed decisions in the future, and if that leads you to your primary care doctor to start the official diagnosis process, good for you if that's what you want! 😊

At the end of the day ADHD is something personal so don't let anyone make those decisions for you. Either way good luck to all of you!  💕

The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale vs Other ADHD Diagnosis Tools

How is the ASRS different from other ADHD diagnostic tools?

The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS) was developed to identify adults who are more likely than those in the general population to have ADHD, even without a formal assessment by a mental health professional.

The ASRS is not intended to diagnose an individual as having the disorder and it would be up to mental health professional or psychiatrist to make that decision after conducting more in depth testing such as the ADOS-1 screening tool which can then help determine what the recommended treatment plan may be.

Other diagnostic tools like Attention Deficit Diagnostic System (ADDS), the Connors scale are more comprehensive and more reliable but time consuming.

Is there any disadvantage of using the adult ADHD screener over other tools for diagnosis of adult ADHD?

Yes, the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale is the least reliable tool to diagnose ADHD. For the simple reason that it was not designed to do that.

It is merely a first step to figure out whether it is worth or not to pursue the diagnosis process.

What are the pros and cons of using ASRS Screener for diagnosis of adult ADHD vs other symptom assessment tools or questionnaires?

If you are looking for a quick answer as to whether you should talk to your doctor about ADHD, then the ASRS Screener is a great first step.

You can do it on your own, or bring the questionnaire to your appointment and start the conversation.

That is what it was designed to do, elicit meaningful conversations about ADHD in adults to figure out the right next steps for each individual.

It is quick and easy and in most cases it will be accurate and the doctor should take the right course of action.

The issue is that it is not a guarantee, because it is a subjective assessment, we all have different perceptions of frequency or severity of the symptoms for example.

If you or your doctor overvalue or undervalue components of the ASRS, you may get an inaccurate result. 😥

This is why we recommend you do not rely on the ADHD Self-Report Scale. ⚠

Go further in your assessment of your symptoms. List them all out, especially the ones that are not on the official symptom checklist. That will help you figure out if it is something else than ADHD, or if you have multiple conditions.

Then go see a medical professional you trust -go see multiple if you are not confident in their abilities- and present to them your detailed assessment.

Do not proclame a diagnosis. Just present your symptoms, explain their frequency, how it is an impairment in your daily life, and share real-life examples from your childhood and from last month.

The more information you'll share the more likely you are to get an accurate diagnosis. ☺

The mini ADHD coach's advice

Take the test, it takes 5 minutes, and you'll get at least an idea of how likely you are to have ADHD.

Be sure to take this result with a grain of salt though. Actually a lot of salt if you know what I mean? 🤣

The point is if you are likely to have ADHD according to the ADHD Self-Report Scale, then I would recommend you continue learning about the ADHD diagnosis process, and consider seeing a professional when you are ready. ✨

If you are unlikely to have ADHD according to the that test but still resonates with a lot of what you've seen about ADHD on social media, I would dig deeper. 🧐

Check out different ADHD tests & questionnaires online, try the Connors Scale,  use our Workbook to assess 25+ ADHD symptoms (official & unofficial)...

These more sophisticated assessments will give you a more reliable idea of wether you have ADHD or not.

Whatever may come from all that, I would advise to synthesize your findings and share them with your primary care doctor. Combining all that data with your medical history he should be able to understand exactly what you are dealing with. 🤗

Conclusion

The Adult ADHD Self Report Scale (ASRS) Screener is a quick and easy assessment tool that can be used to determine if you are likely to have adult ADHD.

Although it lacks the reliability as other tests for diagnosing ADHD in adults, it is still worth using because it can be the quickest path to an official diagnosis, because it mostly provide accurate results and most doctors can implement the right next steps with their patients.

It is definitely not the end-all be all though! Do not rely on it if your situation is complex.  

Like this article, and everything else you can read online it cannot replace the professional opinion of a doctor.

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Table of Contents

1) Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS): The Basics

2) How to use the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale

3) What do the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale Results mean?

4) The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale vs Other ADHD Diagnosis Tools

Conclusion

No time to read this article?

--> I want to download the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale NOW. 

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. If you are experiencing symptoms of ADHD, it’s best to see a professional for a diagnosis.

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I created The Mini ADHD Coach in august 2020 when I was just diagnosed with ADHD at 29. After years of questioning, therapy, burnouts and chaotic career path changes I finally understood why I was struggling with so many things. So I decided to share what I learned to raise awareness around ADHD and help the ADHD community thrive.

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