For all you impatient types (and here I’m assuming that applies to pretty much my entire readership), I have some seemingly bad news for you: ADHD diagnosis is not a wham, bam, thank-you-ma’am kind of procedure. It starts with a hunt to find the right professional – someone familiar enough with ADHD to even warrant a visit – and progresses to a detailed study of your symptoms and history, usually obtained from several sources (i.e. YOU, plus at least one other family member, close friend, or significant other.) This evaluation usually takes multiple visits and several hours.
Why all the fuss? Mostly to prevent misdiagnosis. Problems with vision and hearing, learning disabilities, nutritional deficiencies, thyroid problems, and several other conditions need to be ruled out before settling on ADHD as the culprit for your symptoms. This is a GOOD thing, folks, no matter how grumpy the whole thing makes you feel initially.
So, now you know you’re in for a bit of a process. Let’s talk about how to get that process started.
Who is qualified to diagnose ADHD?
Interestingly enough, Child Psychologists and Pediatricians are often seen by adults seeking ADHD diagnosis, purely because these professionals typically have the highest level of experience with the symptoms of ADHD. Diagnosis can also be acquired from:
- Clinical Psychologists
- Certain Counselors
- General Practitioners (Family Doctors)
- Clinical Social Workers
- Nurse Practitioners
Keep in mind that the ABILITY of the above list of professionals to diagnose ADHD does NOT mean that they will necessarily do so. Many professionals are relatively unfamiliar with ADHD and would feel more comfortable sending you to someone with a high level of experience with the disorder.
So, okay…how do I locate a professional with ADHD experience?
I recommend purchasing a neon-colored t-shirt that reads “I have ADHD – for heaven’s sake, somebody please help!” and wearing it around in public until someone with the requisite skill set approaches you to offer assistance. For your convenience, I have actually designed and printed this very t-shirt FOR you. It is available for purchase on my website and comes in adult sizes S through 2XL.
Joke, people. That was a joke.
What I’d ACTUALLY recommend is that you ask for referrals from a couple of places:
- Your Primary Care Physician. Even if he/she is unwilling to diagnose you, he/she may be able to direct you to someone with the right level of experience.
- The Psychiatry Department at a Medical School near you. Often, there will be someone on staff with ADHD expertise.
- Your insurance company. Bit of a roundabout way of doing it, but your insurance company may be able to direct you to ADHD experts in your area that are covered by your health plan.
- The Googles. This requires that your local ADHD expert be up-to-date on the interweb, but it’s actually how I located a psychologist in my area who offered ADHD testing.
- A local Psychiatrist. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication for ADHD, but not all of them diagnose it. Those that DO may solve your problem. Those that DON’T can usually direct you to someone that WILL.
- Visit some of the big-dog ADHD websites like CHADD, ADDA, ACO, and ADDittudemag.com, all of which have professional directories.
If this is all crazy overwhelming to you, GET SOME HELP! Grab a friend or family member who is good at making calls and getting things done and have him/her sit down with you, a computer, a phone, and some method of keeping track of the appointments you’re going to make.
Alternatively, send me a message. I’m always more than happy to help any way that I can.