What Is Involved In A Private ADHD Assessment?
Feb 10, 2023, 6 min read
Think you (or your child) might have ADHD? While it might be difficult to tell without a formal assessment, any suspicions you have are valid and always worth exploring, especially if you think an ADHD diagnosis and management plan could help improve quality of life.
There has been a rise in the number of people being diagnosed with ADHD in recent years, and this mostly comes down to a greater awareness of the condition. If you believe you may have the symptoms of ADHD, you may be keen to book an assessment to find out if you do, what this means for you, and how to handle a potential diagnosis going forward.
Before you book a private ADHD assessment, let’s answer your burning questions such as: How long does an ADHD assessment take? Who will be conducting it? What kind of questions will I be asked? And all the other queries swirling around in your mind...
Whatever’s weighing on you, we’re here to help.
What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (known as ADHD) is a neurodivergence. This is a form of neurodiversity — a difference in how the brain is hard-wired when compared to neurotypical individuals.
In adults, symptoms can include difficulty focusing for long periods of time, distractibility, impulsiveness and inattentiveness. You may find it interferes with learning, studying, working or just getting seemingly simple tasks done throughout the day, like organising things, completing tasks, remembering things, following through on instructions, and managing your time.
Children with ADHD may struggle to play quietly, to take simple instructions without getting distracted, and could be particularly hyperactive (i.e. doing a lot of running or climbing). ADHD can present itself differently in girls than in boys, with girls often being less hyperactive and instead presenting more inattentive features of ADHD.
If any of the above sound like you or your child, keep reading…
Is a private ADHD assessment required? What about an NHS appointment?
Great questions. Here in the UK, a GP can’t formally diagnose ADHD, but they can refer you or your child for an assessment with a specialist.
When you see your NHS GP, they may ask about things like:
- Family history
- When you first noticed symptoms
- Where you notice symptoms most (school, work, etc.)
- What parts of life are affected
- Any major changes or events that have happened recently
- Any other health struggles
If your GP thinks it’s necessary, you or your child may be referred to a specialist.
An ADHD assessment with the NHS — while just as thorough and helpful as a private appointment — can have a long waiting list depending on which area of the country you are in. You may find you’re given a date for an assessment very quickly, or you may have to wait at least 18 months to access the services you need. When this happens, many people choose to go private. While this isn’t possible for everyone due to the added expense, it can deliver a potential diagnosis much sooner and give you the option to choose which psychiatrist you get seen by.
Who should get an assessment?
There are a few reasons why a private ADHD assessment may be best for you, for example:
- If you have encountered long waiting times on the NHS
- If your GP has refused to provide a referral
- If your child has severe ADHD issues and you think they require an immediate assessment without delay
- If you prefer to choose which ADHD specialist you get seen by
There are added costs associated with private healthcare so it won’t be affordable for everyone. With us, a private ADHD assessment can cost between £590 and £1,150 depending on which specialist you see. These assessments can take place either in person or online, and the cost sometimes includes follow-up medication reviews.
Who will conduct the assessment?
An adult ADHD assessment is conducted by a psychiatrist or healthcare professional with specialised training in diagnosing ADHD. If you’re looking for an assessment for your child, you can have this done via a specialist child psychiatrist or paediatrician.
You can use Augmentive’s platform, where our free 15 minute consultation can help you find the best specialist for you.
How long does an ADHD assessment take?
An ADHD assessment varies in length depending on who you see, as each specialist has their own methods of diagnosing the condition. Typically, an assessment can take anywhere from 1.5 - 3 hours depending on the complexity of the case.
Can I bring someone with me?
Each specialist will have their own clinic rules, but usually an adult will go through the assessment alone, while a child will come with a parent/guardian. In some cases interviews with family members are conducted to better understand an individual’s symptoms, so you may be required to bring someone.
Do I need to prepare anything?
When you book an appointment, you may be sent a short questionnaire to fill in related to your symptoms. If you are open to taking medication, then you may be asked to bring along additional information such as a blood test, blood pressure results and an electrocardiogram — don’t worry though, when you book, the clinic will explain what you need and how to get it.
You may also find it useful to write down any questions you have so you don’t forget, but this is optional.
What does the assessment involve?
An ADHD assessment involves a series of questions, some of them being part of validated questionnaires. Specialists often begin exploring areas of concern and difficulty. They then take a developmental history (i.e. explore the patient’s past) to understand whether there could be causes other than ADHD that present as ADHD symptoms.
Adults will usually be asked some questions about their childhood to determine how far back symptoms go, and how they have shaped life so far. They will ask questions about an individual’s circumstances now to determine how current potential symptoms affect day-to-day life.
Once the specialist has got a sense of the patient as a whole, they will use validated measures to assess for ADHD. Measures could include the DIVA-5 or Conners Scale. These represent a predetermined list of criteria to assess for ADHD, developed based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V (DSM-5).
Depending on the age of the individual being assessed, the DSM checklist requires an individual to meet at least 5 or 6 of the symptoms across either the inattentive or hyperactive/impulsive categories, or report symptoms persisting for at least 6 months.
According to the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), the criteria your assessor may be looking out for include:
- Making careless mistakes in school or at work
- Trouble holding attention or listening, and easily distracted
- Not following through on instructions and failing to finish things
- Trouble organising tasks, and avoiding tasks requiring concentration
- Regularly losing important things
- Fidgeting, tapping or squirming
- Can’t stay seated when required, and always being on the go
- Can’t stay quiet when required, talks excessively, and blurts out answers before a question is finished
- Can’t wait their turn, and often interrupts others
Keep in mind that ADHD often presents differently in women and girls, and they may have difficulty organising, completing tasks, remembering things, following through on instructions, and managing their time. A specialist will take this into consideration when going through the assessment.
What happens after the assessment?
Once a specialist has conducted the full ADHD assessment, they may tell you immediately if you or your child have ADHD, or they may require follow-up assessments, or time to make their treatment recommendations. Make sure you understand the next steps before you leave. If medication is required, they will talk you through this and provide a prescription if suitable. Other medical checks might be required before a prescription is provided.
They will also send over a formal report describing what was discussed in the assessment and written recommendations. You can learn more in our article; Your Guide to ADHD Medication in the UK (For Children and Adults).
Is there a follow-up appointment?
If you are prescribed medication, often there will be a follow-up with your psychiatrist so they can check if it's the right medication for you and adjust the dose if needed. Once you have both agreed on the best medication and dosage, your specialist may write to your GP to start a ‘shared care agreement’. This will enable you to access the medication from a pharmacy through an NHS prescription, which can be a more affordable option.
You may also find more helpful information in our article; Do you think you may have ADHD? Here's the support available
Whether you’re feeling off-kilter or want to shake up your routine, our state-of-the-art mental wellbeing platform gives you quick and seamless access to world-class support on your terms, from private mental health assessments and reviews, to finding qualified and approved mental health professionals for the support you need: join us today.