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For example, some college students seek special accommodations for taking tests; others may want stimulants for abuse, misuse or diversion. Fortunately, doctors can detect fake ADHD in several ways. We teach that in our FREE online CME courses on ADHD in Adults. Using the Wisconsin card sorting test to detect malingering: an analysis of the specificity of two methods in nonmalingering normal and patient samples. Some studies even suggest that ADHD adults downplay their ADHD symptoms. For example, one study diagnosed ADHD in children and then contacted them many years later when they were young adults. Performance and specificity rates in the Test of Memory Malingering: an investigation into pediatric clinical populations. That means that they can learn about the symptoms of the disorder and make up examples of how they have had them, when they have not.
That said, we also know from research studies that, when asked to pretend that they have ADHD, adults can fake the disorder. C-88Abbreviating the Test of Memory Malingering: TOMM Trial 1 in Children with ADHD.
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So, currently, doctors concerned about fake ADHD should look for objective indicators of impairment (e.g., documented traffic accidents; academic performance below expectation) and speak to a parent of the patient to document that impairing symptoms of the disorder were present before the age of twelve.
Because the issue of fake ADHD is of most concern on college campuses, it can also be helpful to speak with a teacher who has had frequent contact with the patient.
Researchers are developing methods to detect faking of ADHD symptoms.