This is a collaborative post.
Have you considered seeking an adult diagnosis of ADHD or autism? How can you get diagnosed as an adult? Would a diagnosis help you? All these are very valid questions and something I know many people are considering at the moment.
An adult diagnosis of ADHD or autism is getting more and more common. Some people may say that it is just the latest fashionable diagnosis to have. I would disagree however and say that whilst there may be a few cases of that, the vast majority of cases are because there is a lot more awareness now of autism and ADHD and it is more widely accepted than it once was. Ben was diagnosed with autism at age 2, but this was rarely the case with children in the 1970s or 1980s for example.
Here I want to share with you the experiences of a few of my friends, anonymously of course, but sharing things they wish they knew before they went for a diagnosis. I am also sharing advice they were given by professionals to see if this may help you decide if it is the right path for you.
How do I get an adult ADHD or Autism diagnosis?
The majority of people who, as an adult, feel they may have ADHD or autism see their GP or general practitioner. The NHS will of course prioritise any cases they feel are more important and the waiting lists are very long. That isn’t to say you can’t request to be referred for it, simply to say don’t expect it to be done quickly!
The other alternative is to go to a private healthcare provider. If you have health insurance this may be something you can get through your insurance. Alternatively, you may need to research somewhere yourself. There are centres set up just for this purpose that offer an adult ADHD assessment or an adult autism assessment for a set fee.
How much is an assessment for ADHD or Autism?
Assessment for autism or ADHD privately can vary greatly in price. I have seen it available for around £800 if you have consultations online and it is up to in the thousands depending on who you choose to be assessed by and where you are based.
This cost, of course, is optional because there is the NHS in the UK however many people do not want to wait, which I completely understand. I guess it really depends on your priorities and budgets.
10 things you need to know about ADHD or Autism assessment and diagnosis before you start
From the experiences of some friends, I have compiled these things they wish they had known before going for assessment for autism, ADHD or both. Hopefully, reading their thoughts will help you examine if this is the right path for you.
Will attitudes change?
A diagnosis won’t necessarily change the way anyone behaves towards you. There are many cases where people are still stuck in days gone by thinking that these conditions only affect boys who are naughty. It is important to realise these beliefs are their problem, not yours.
Questioning your prior beliefs about ADHD
Being diagnosed will make you think about and question so many prior beliefs you had about your life. For example, you may think some things you did “must be due to anxiety” and realise that actually, they were likely due to ADHD or autism.
You may get more support at work
There may be more support you could have at work such as visual cues for things, support in managing your time or anything else you find works to help you.
You will get to know and understand the real you
Many people say that getting their diagnosis has helped them to understand and also importantly accept the real them. Instead of hiding and making excuses for the person they are a diagnosis has helped them accept the person they are and the struggles and quirks they have.
Previous labels may be wrong
Other people may have incorrectly labelled you in the past. Whilst you may have been told by teachers you were lazy or dippy that was based on the knowledge they had then, things change.
Reading about it helps
Have a good read about ADHD and Autism and how they present in women. This can really help and may make you realise that you feel happier knowing why you are the way you are, without an official diagnosis.
Do you need medication?
If part of the reason you would like a diagnosis is for the appropriate medication you should ask a pharmacist, doctor or consultant to see if that would be suitable for you anyway. It may be that these medications could not be taken due to other conditions you have. Not everyone benefits from medication and it may be that techniques would help you more.
You can use techniques now
You do not need a diagnosis to consider using techniques that are known to help people with ADHD for example the Pomodoro Technique.
It could affect your mental health
If you already have a psychiatrist, counsellor or another professional who knows you well then discuss the idea with them even if they are not able to diagnose themselves. They should help you decide if the process of seeking an assessment and diagnosis would be harmful or beneficial to your mental health.
Additionally, you may experience a grieving-like process when you have been diagnosed due to the realisation that you do have a condition and there is something “wrong with you”. What you do need to remember though is that you are you and it is something that makes you different, not wrong.
They are genuine conditions
Whatever your feelings in the past or the opinions of others, ADHD in adults is a genuine condition as is Autism in adults, they are conditions that are lifelong. Whilst they change the way they present throughout your life they don’t just appear or disappear.
You may wish you knew sooner
The main thing that people with a diagnosis say is that they wish they had known sooner. Does reading about adult ADHD or autism really make you feel like you are reading about yourself? Would a diagnosis help you to understand yourself more?
If this is the case then why not start looking into getting a diagnosis, what is the worse that could happen? If you find the process too hard or the professionals don’t believe you have any conditions then what have you lost?