Computer based TOVA Test did results did not align with ADHD - now what?

So my counselor told me I have ADHD but she wanted me to get the official diagnosis from a doctor or psychiatrist rather than from her. Last month I went to a family practice doctor that specializes in ADHD (he was listed on the ADDITUDE list of specialists). At the end of the first appointment he was 85-95% certain I had it but he does his evaluation in 2 parts - so he wanted me to come back later for the computer based test TOVA. I did that today - and the results though abnormal were more in line with the normative group than the ADHD group so he doesn’t think I have ADHD and recommended I go to a diagnostician (maybe I psychologist) and gave me a card for a counseling office. The test was mostly normal - except for the 3rd quarter of the test (during which time it is testing impulsivity) and I made too many mistakes there so it put it in the abnormal range for that section… On a scale of negative 10 to positive 10 I was at 3.22 - below 0 is ADHD and above 0 is more inline with not having ADHD… I did read online that if for some reason your brain finds the test stimulating you could get a false negative - sort of like a computer game (though a boring one) - I have had trouble binging on computer games in the past as a way to escape stress… I did fear that I would do better on the test than I do at work… I feel like the test is easier because all I had to do was pay attention and click the button - at work I have to make decisions (so hard) and create content (well document my patient treatments/evaluations - I’m a physical therapist) - but that involves a lot more brain power than clicking a button so it doesn’t really simulate my “normal life” situation…

I’ve been working with my counselor for over a year and have told her lots of stuff about my struggles… one person told me anxiety can look like ADHD. When I told her that she said yes, and I might buy if you didn’t have so many of the other symptoms… so she really felt it was ADHD (she does agree I have anxiety too - but thinks it maybe the anxiety is caused by the untreated ADHD).

During the Doctor’s initial assessment I felt like he relied a lot on the questionnaires he had me fill out (for ADHD, anxiety, depression, sleep, etc) - we did spend a good bit of time talking - mostly about my struggles at work since that is my biggest problem (or at least the most urgent one - I also have a lot of trouble at home where the ADHD (or whatever my problem is) affects me). - but we didn’t talk about all the different struggles…

I guess I wonder if I need to get a second opinion or just say it must be something else… course maybe if I go to a psychologist they will think it is ADHD??? or maybe something else… He said to talk to my counselor first - so I’ll see what she says. She is on vacation right now - but I have an appointment with her next Sunday - so I will be interested to hear her thoughts on the matter.

I was relieved not to have to start the medicine as I was scared of it - and certainly don’t want to take stimulant ADHD medicine if I don’t have ADHD (or another condition for which it would be indicated) - but on the other hand I had hoped it would make a difference at work… I’m really struggling there and I need to do better - my boss has been patient - but I don’t want to lose my job and fear I will eventually if I can’t improve my productivity…

Has anyone here had a similar situation where the computer testing didn’t show ADHD but you still got diagnosed or got a second opinion? Technically my counselor already diagnosed me - but she wanted me to get it from a doctor thinking it would have more weight at work (for accommodations)…or that meds might help and she can’t prescribe meds.

no matter your diagnosis, you never have to take a med you don’t want to take.

@papserweight thanks - that is a good point… part of me wanted to see if it would make a major difference in my work - which made me somewhat open to trying it but I was also a bit scared of the medicine - side effects, etc…

I found a description and examples of the test online, and it does seem like a simple video game. (Back in the 80s, it would have resembled some of the Atari games I used to play.) It would have seemed like some kind of game for me, and thus would have been mildly stimulating for my normally-variable attention.

I know from my psychology studies in college (from a class called “Engineering Psychology”) that the auditory-verbal and visual-spatial systems in the brain are distinct from one another. That’s why you can usually walk and talk at the same time, but if you try to read and listen at the same time you are likely to have difficulty following both, or if you try to draw a picture of one thing while looking closely at another you’ll have similar trouble.

  • I believe my natural gifts side with the visual-spatial part, and my natural weaknesses with the auditory-verbal side. I don’t think there’s any correlation between that and my ADHD, though.