As a sort of disclaimer, "diagnosis" is a much stronger word than what is meant.

ADD seems to be an umbrella term. Where does one start with self-diagnosis? Or what macro-level categories are there (to further observe oneself for certain characteristics or traits). An outline is probably the best way.

I do not mean "disability" as an excuse for lazy university students who do not try. Furthermore, please assume that 'study skills' (organization, time management, note taking, etc) are average or above average (since this also factors into academic performance).

EDIT: This question applies to many people. Labeling something is not the same thing as "self-help." The question is specifically phrased to not ask for opinion based answers. Furthermore, noting the Hawthorne effect does not necessarily cause altered behavior.

  • $\begingroup$ What is your goal? $\endgroup$
    – noumenal
    Jul 29, 2016 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ It seems that ADD/ADHD is grossly overdiagnosed. I want to learn what else there is that has similar symptoms. $\endgroup$
    – adamaero
    Aug 4, 2016 at 0:37
  • $\begingroup$ Just a word of caution, or two actually. The DSM does not cover obscure aspects of learning disabilities. Someone asked here for instance about Letter Position Dyslexia (which you'll be hard pressed to find in the DSM or any other book). And the second caution is that diagnosis in marginal or difficult cases depends a lot on who's doing it. So if you think you know what the problem is (roughly), do spend your money on a specialist in that area. $\endgroup$
    – Fizz
    Nov 20, 2017 at 16:41

2 Answers 2


Attempting to diagnose your self is likely to result in a diagnosis riddled with confirmation bias, and therefore incorrect. However, if you insist on diagnosing yourself I would recommend starting with the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual - 5). This is a psychiatrist's bible, and strictly outlines the set of symptoms that are required for a particular diagnosis.

A caveat before reading - read the entire chapter, not just the symptom list. The supporting information discusses the symptomology in depth, and will provide a much more accurate diagnosis.

The Manual can be found here:

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V


As a precursor, there are common pitfalls of self diagnosis. If already diagnosed as ADD/ADHD or slow processing speed, it may be a lack of understanding or knowledge of the causes of this disorder rather than a different disability:

On the other hand, there are obvious hindrances that probably would have been identified already: Dyslexia (significantly observable reading issue), dysgraphia (incoherent writing), dyscalculia (calculating), dyspraxia (coordination), etc. Again, for these you will know right away and describe with unspecialized language.

As for an outline of these specific learning disorders, they are broken up as simple as this:

  1. Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Math

A more detailed overview of subcategories is here.


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