What should an ADHD Assessment include?
Posted on 20th June 2023 at 12:49
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.
A psychiatric history
This covers your mental health as a child and adult, any psychiatric diagnosis which you or other members of your family may have, a history of any trauma you have experienced in childhood or adulthood, any struggles you have had with addiction including alcohol, drug use, smoking, pornography and use of the internet. A psychiatric history will also involve a risk assessment including your history of any harm caused to yourself or others and difficulties you may have had with low mood and suicidal thinking or self-harming behaviour.
A full clinical and psychosocial assessment
Here the assessor will ask you about what treatment or therapy you have had, your sleep, exercise and eating patterns, any difficulties relating to mood, (including anxiety and depression) and emotion regulation, information about your physical health and what medication you take. In addition, the assessor will explore with you, your history of friendships and relationships, interactions with your family, how you manage daily talks, how you spend your day (including your work if you are working and what you do in your free time. You will be asked about your symptoms and things in your life which you struggle with.
Assessment of mental state and observation
During the assessment process, the psychologist, or other mental health professional, will gain information from observing you, about how you are during the appointments and they will also ask you about your levels of stress and anxiety and whether you are experiencing any low mood.
An ADHD assessment needs to contain all these elements in order to reach an accurate conclusion about whether someone has ADHD or not. Often, the professional conducting the assessment, will also interview someone who knew you well as child or who knows you well as an adult and they will review other relevant information such as a school reports. When you contact someone with a view to asking them to assess you for ADHD, ask them what their assessment process includes, so that you can decide if it covers all the requirements outlined by the NICE guidelines.
Tagged as: ADHD
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