What we aim to offer families affected by ADHD
- To develop and improve our assessments of children and young people who might have ADHD, and to provide accessible and timely feedback about diagnosis (or not) to children, young people, families and schools.
- To enable clinicians to become more specialist in providing those ADHD assessments.
- To develop our workshops, trainings and interventions for families and schools who e supporting children with ADHD.
Our assessment processes
We have developed a model of assessment that draws on information gathered from parents and teachers, developmental (early) history, detailed school observations and parent-child sessions. The clinicians leading on this assessment go back to the Team (including Psychiatry, Family therapy, Occupational Therapy and Clinical Psychology) to formulate and make decisions with the information. In situations where diagnosis is given, we then offer feedback sessions to parents, the child or young person and then the school.
Our assessments have the following intentions
- To listen to your concerns as parents and/or teachers to consider the possibility of ADHD in the context of your child’s other struggles (such as anxiety or sensory difficulties).
- To look out for strengths, resources, abilities and skills at home, school and any other activities.
- To assess the severity of ADHD features. This means we look at the impact of inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity on life at home and school.
- To consider whether there might be anything else going on for the young person (like anxiety, worry, low mood, tics or social/communication difficulties).
- To explore physical health and sensory integration – by asking about appetite, sleep, sensory issues (sensitivity to taste, touch, smell, movement, sound), and general physical well-being, and to take a full developmental history (from birth to present times).
How do we gather this information?
Our assessments for ADHD take 5/6 meetings, at our clinics or at school. We tend to focus our assessments only on children of school age. If we start our assessments too young, it can be tricky to know what is happening, because children change so much before the age of 5 or 6.
Pre-school children are naturally active, have short attention spans and are still learning how to hold onto their emotions, ideas and wishes. Because of this it can be hard to know what is typical for this stage and what might be early signs of ADHD. Assessments with pre-school children often involve watching and monitoring the child’s development over time; as the child matures and the demands of school increase. It can also involve parents and carers experimenting with different ways of parenting and seeing whether this helps the child be less active, pay better attention and react less.
We always have a general first assessment (Choice appointment) at home or school or clinic/children’s centre. Usually, the parent and child attends this first meeting, and we gather as much information as we can about family, school, early development and current strengths or needs.
We also look at
- Questionnaires about life at home or school
- Take a full history from parents about the child’s development
- Meet with the child or young person to get to know him or her as much as we can
- We also do a school/nursery observation
We always work within a ‘strength-based approach’ to ADHD. This means we consider what positives ADHD might bring to a child and family, as well as challenges. We are keen to consider what diagnosis might mean to children, families or schools at the point of assessment.
Over the past 18 months, we have focused initially on our interventions (treatment options):
- Parent groups (for primary aged children)
- Individual work with children/young people and parents
- Support and ADHD training to schools
- Workshops or individual work with families making sense of diagnosis
We are keen to remain closely linked to the local ADHD parent support group and to consult closely with parents themselves about what would be most useful for families.
Click here for more information on using medication for ADHD.
What happens next?
- We discuss our information with a small group of colleagues in a team meeting. We look at DSM V (the diagnostic criteria for ADHD) to help us decide whether ADHD looks likely.
- We meet with you to feedback our assessments. If ADHD seems to be part of the picture, we talk about pros and cons of diagnosis and think about what would be most helpful to you.
- We provide two reports – one written for adults (parents, schools and GPs) and the other written for the child or young person.
- Finally, we offer a school meeting to feedback information, and to consider what might be the most helpful next steps in accessing the right support for learning at school.
If you want more information and support on ADHD download our leaflets:
If you have any questions about this process, please do not hesitate to contact me at Islington Community CAMHS:
Vicky Mattison (Clinical Psychologist)