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How do I get an ADHD diagnosis?
(Adult)

*Note: Some clinics in UK do offer joint or even transdiagnostic assessments (Autism and ADHD or Tourette's) but overall, each one is separate.  

To get an ADHD diagnosis through a GP consultation, you can follow these steps: 

 

Schedule an Appointment: Make an appointment with your GP or doctor specifically to discuss your concerns about ADHD. 

 

Prepare for the Appointment: Gather any relevant information about your symptoms and experiences. This could include reports or feedback from family (if possible), friends, education staff, supervisors, workplace managers, as well as your own notes about your experiences with ADHD symptoms. You can also fill out the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) ADHD Self Report Scale ASRS v 1.1 to bring with you to the appointment. 

 

Discuss Your Symptoms and Medical History: During the appointment, be prepared to discuss your ADHD symptoms and provide a detailed medical history. This information will help your GP determine whether to refer you for further assessment. 

 

Request a Referral: If your GP believes further assessment is warranted, they may refer you to a commissioned adult ADHD service. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, there is a right to provision for ADHD services, meaning your local NHS has an obligation to fund you to receive the service elsewhere if there is no local provision. You can access this funding through the Individual Funding Request process applicable to your region. 

 

Follow Up on the Referral: Once you've been referred, follow up with the commissioned adult ADHD service to schedule an assessment. This assessment is typically conducted by a psychiatrist or specialist ADHD nurse using their preferred screening tools. 

 

Discuss Diagnosis and Care Plan: During the assessment, you can discuss whether you want the diagnosis and care plan to be shared with your GP. It's important to communicate your preferences regarding sharing information. 

 

Follow Through with Recommendations: Depending on the outcome of the assessment, you may receive a diagnosis of ADHD. Follow through with any recommendations for treatment or support provided by the healthcare professionals involved in your care. 

 

By following these steps and being proactive in advocating for your needs, you can work with your GP to pursue an ADHD diagnosis and access appropriate support and treatment. 

There is a long time for assessment, but once you are there the clinicians will typically use various diagnostic tools and assessments to evaluate your symptoms.  

We have put together what you can expect during the assessment process: 

 

Diagnostic Tools Used 

  • The Diagnostic Interview for Adult ADHD (DIVA) 

    • A structured interview conducted by clinicians to assess ADHD symptoms. 

  •    QbCheck and QbTests 

    • Computerised tests used to measure attention and other cognitive functions. 

  •    ADHD Rating Scales 

    • These may include the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS) and the Conners' Adult ADHD Rating Scale (CAARS). 

  •    Behaviour Checklists 

    • Such as the ADHD Rating Scale-IV (ADHD-RS-IV) or ADHD Symptom Checklist. 

  •    Cognitive Tests and Neuropsychological Assessments 

    • These tests measure various cognitive functions such as attention, working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility. 

 

Post-Assessment Discussion and Care Plan 

  • After the assessment, the clinician(s) will ideally discuss the findings with you or might just send you a letter 

  • If a diagnosis of ADHD is offered, a care plan will be outlined. This may include recommendations for ADHD-specific medication. 

  • Medication can be prescribed by a psychiatrist or a prescription-qualified specialist ADHD nurse. Before starting medication, your GP may perform medical tests such as checking your blood pressure and cardiovascular functioning to ensure you are suitable for the medication. 

 

Treatment Options and Support 

  •  Not everyone diagnosed with ADHD chooses to take medication. Some individuals may see the diagnosis as a means of self-governance, affirming identity and autonomy as already have gained some insight into who they are or made adaptations that work for them or paperwork documentation.   

  • The care plan may include recommendations for talk therapy or coaching. 

  • Support may also be provided in areas such as the workplace, where employers have responsibilities to accommodate employees with ADHD.  

 

Overall, the assessment clinic aims to provide a comprehensive evaluation of your symptoms and develop a personalised care plan to address your needs, whether through medication, therapy, or support services. It's important to communicate your preferences and concerns with the clinicians during the assessment process. 

  

Private assessments - UK 

Waiting times for NHS assessments are long so if you have the means to go privately, this is what you might expect to consider:

 

Find Recognised Clinicians 

Ensure that the diagnosing clinicians are recognised members of the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK or the appropriate one for your country. This ensures they meet professional standards for medical practice. For the UK - that they are CQC approved assessors and that they are regularly inspected by the CQC.  Check the staff are reviewed and trained regularly.    

Check for Shared Care Agreement 

Liaise with your GP to ensure that your private provider will accept a 'Shared Care Agreement'. This means they will accept the findings and administration from your provider and take on the prescribing of medication under your national healthcare provider. This can help avoid the cost of private prescriptions. 

Check what support they offer to individuals who don’t meet the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis. There should be a percentage of those who don’t receive one too.  

 

Resources for Finding Private ADHD Assessment Clinics 

There are resources available online that provide lists of private ADHD assessment clinics. You can search for these resources to find clinics in your area. Recommendations are also a good idea. We suggest looking at the how many times they diagnose people and what support they offer to those who do not meet the criteria for a diagnosis as well.  

    

Assessment Process for Children and Young People 

In the UK children and young people seeking assessment for ADHD are usually referred to the relevant child and adolescent mental health service via their GP or education setting (CAMHS).  

Assessments typically include a physical examination, consideration of interviews or reports from significant individuals such as parents and teachers, evidence of ADHD traits in different settings, and the presence of symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. 

 

Understanding Common ADHD Traits 

Inattention

This trait is often experienced as a lack of focus on less interesting tasks but can present as hyper-focus on enjoyable activities or subjects. Individuals with ADHD may have challenges with planning, organising themselves and with time management and become easily distracted. However, they may also exhibit hyper-productivity and intensely hyperfocus on projects or interests.  

By considering these factors and seeking a private assessment for ADHD from recognised clinicians, you can potentially expedite the diagnosis process and access appropriate support and treatment tailored to your needs. 

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