I Suspect My Child Has ADHD, What Should I Do?

At this early stage when you have growing suspicions that your child has ADHD or another ND condition it may feel daunting to start off on this exploratory journey. 

We have created a simple symptoms checker to get started.  Please see our “ADHD symptom checker”.

Keep a diary of the symptoms your child is showing. Depending on your child’s setting, explain your concerns and ask your caregiver/school/SenCo/keyworker or health visitor (under 5) to do the same. 

While you begin to build this picture it is important to know that you do not need to have a diagnosis to access services via the NHS.

HOWEVER the reality is the services are becoming more scarce as funding has eroded in recent years.  These services vary hugely by local authority in terms of the offer itself, as well as availability and opportunity. 

Every Local Authority has a Local Offer:

“A Local Offer gives children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities, and their families, information about what support services the local authority thinks will be available in their local area.”

“You do not require a diagnosis to trigger the services available via the local Offer. The quality or availability of the services will differ greatly depending on your local authority but you have a right to access these services and understand what is available to you.  You do need a diagnosis if you wish to seek medication for ADHD.”

Seeking a Diagnosis for ADHD

You would like to have your child referred for an assessment for ADHD, you have:

NHS Referral 

“NHS Right to Choose is a set of rights that all NHS patients in England have. It gives them more control over their healthcare by allowing them to choose where they get their care from, including from private providers. Patients can also choose to get their care from a different hospital or clinic if the first one does not meet their needs. This can help to reduce waiting times for appointments, giving patients greater choice and control over their care.  For more information see our “right to choose.”

In this case, the advice I would give is to become as educated as you can and give yourself as much love and patience as possible.

Others may not always understand and that can be frustrating, but finding confidence in yourself can often help you cope with other people’s judgement.

Warning! The providers that are accepted as part of the right to choose are also experiencing high demand and long wait times. Your GP/assessment team can help you understand which other providers are applicable to offer care. 

Due to lack of funding and long waiting lists this has become a credible option. A private assessment is equivalent to an NHS assessment. However If your child is diagnosed with ADHD by a private doctor it does not automatically entitle you to NHS services and prescriptions.  We know that many NHS GPs are happy to recognise private assessments; however, we are also aware of some that are not. GPs do have discretion in this area.

The assessment itself will comprise one or more appointments for you and your child with a team of professionals.

For a child requiring diagnosis the team may:

Post Assessment Appointment

When the diagnostic questionanaires and initial assessment have been completed your child will be given a follow-up appointment to discuss the results..

A follow-up appointment after an ADHD assessment typically involves a  discussion of the results of the initial assessment. Usually with this information the clinician will be able to tell you if your child meets the criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD or not. The clinician should then explain to you exactly what this means. This should include a review of  the results, answer questions, and discuss treatment plans and strategies. This could include medication, behavioral therapy, educational interventions, and lifestyle changes. The doctor may also discuss any additional testing that is needed.

What Do I Do If I Don’t Agree With the Assessment Outcome?

There is a chance you may not be happy with the assessment or the report. This may be because you do not get a diagnosis of ADHD, you are given an alternative diagnosis you do not agree with (such as learning disability) or you are asked to come back at a later date when signs of autism may be clearer.

If this is the case you have the right to:

Unfortunately getting your assessment appointment does not necessarily mean your struggle for a diagnosis is over. Be prepared for a fight. We know from experience that this process isn’t usually easy to navigate. If you can, build a support network around you and your child and be prepared to speak up, you don’t have to accept everything you are told as fact.