The Panorama programme emphasised the length of an assessment and stressed that a 40-minute interview cannot cover all the information which is needed.  
While that is true, an assessment could be several hours long and still be a bad or inadequate assessment and still not have all the elements which are important. The NICE (National Institute of Care Excellence) guidelines on ADHD names the essential parts of an ADHD assessment.  
I will explore in more detail what these are and what this means in practice: 
A full developmental history 
This does what it says on the tin! It is the story of how you as a human being have grown and developed through your life from the year dot up to the present moment. It will cover your birth, how and when you reached key milestones as a baby and young child, including walking and talking, your family background, physical health as a child and adult and your experiences with learning and at school. It will include your work history and how you spend your free time. 
The Panorama Programme on 15th May raised a number of questions: 
• Who can diagnose ADHD? 
• What should an ADHD assessment include? 
• How should questions be asked in an ADHD assessment? 
• What counts as an ADHD symptom? 
I’m going to explore each of these questions in a separate blog. 
“Do I need to tell my GP that I’m having a private ADHD assessment?” is a question that I’m frequently asked. 
Many people who have a private assessment and receive an ADHD diagnosis, chose to take medication. They will therefore see a private specialist prescriber, usually a pharmacist or psychiatrist, for a medication assessment and a few follow up appointments. When the medication has been optimised and is working well, most people are referred back to the care of their GP through what’s called a “Shared Care Agreement”. From this point onwards, your GP prescribes the medication, like any other NHS prescription. Your GP needs to have a copy of your ADHD assessment report, and to know they can trust the conclusions of the report and the diagnosis. 
I’m very skilled at producing a shockingly loud whistle. I’m good at this because I spent hours and hours practising when I was about nine years old which probably wasn’t very relaxing for my family. By repeating the skill, over and over and over and over again, I developed pathways in my brain for making a loud whistling noise.  
I recently discovered, when I had to attract the attention of someone a considerable distance away from me, that I can still do it, even though I haven’t done it for several years.  
When you are learning a new skill, such as whistling, your brain is laying down a pathway. Like sheep tracks, the more you walk that way, the more you practice the skill, the clearer the path becomes. In the brain, chemicals called neurotransmitters, help make and develop these pathways. 
Is ADHD a Disability?: A frequently asked question 
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition which can be diagnosed in childhood. For the majority of people, it will continue into adulthood. It involves specific changes in the brain which can be observed scientifically. For a person to be diagnosed with ADHD, they not only have to have symptoms – problems with attention and/or with being impulsive and hyperactive – they also have to show that their symptoms are having a significantly negative impact on at least two areas of their life such as their: 
work or life at school or university 
leisure time 
family life 
self-confidence and self-image 
social life 
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