In the weeks leading up to this article being written, several people have emailed us here at Butterflies to ask about what services there are for adults who have been diagnosed with ADHD or what to do if an adult suspects that they have ADHD.
Firstly I would like to apologise for the lack of response to those people who have emailed during that time. We have hesitated to respond due to the lack of information we have, and have tried to wait until more information was received.
Every professional we have discussed this with (usually in our own appointment times) have said much the same thing – services in Derbyshire (especially in Derby City) are very poor. Some have said that it is non-existent. Our personal experience in trying to transition our son into adult care have actually proved this correct. In this article we hope to answer some of your questions.
Transition to Adult Services
There are no officially recognised transition paths from child and adolescent care (CAMHS) to adult care. The recommended route is to begin seeing the local GP and discuss the situation from square one without any further input from CAMHS. Our inquiries into alternative pathways have been met so far with no response.
If an individual has additional learning difficulties then it may be possible to transition from CAMHS to Derby City Council’s Learning Disability Team. An assessment will be done to see if services can be put in place. This team has, in our experience, been very helpful, but can only be accessed if learning or behavioural disabilities have been diagnosed.
According to a member of the CAMHS counselling staff, if “significant learning difficulties” have been diagnosed, CAMHS can refer a client to the learning disability team before that client’s 18th birthday. I am not certain of the truth of this as our son has a diagnosis of “quite significant learning difficulties” and this path was never offered to us at any point during CAMHS’ involvement with the case. We are currently waiting to hear from the manager of CAMHS to arrange a meeting to discuss this, so there may be further clarification.
If a CAMHS client is approaching adulthood (16-17 years) and is in full time education at a secondary education establishment then they are eligible for assistance from an organisation called STEPS. This information is based again on our own experiences. We have never been given contact information for this organisation and have found no record of it online, but apparently they can provide assistance in social skills and the skills required for independent living. CAMHS can refer to this organisation if the conditions are met.
Subjective note here: we were promised referral to STEPS by three staff members at CAMHS over a 12 month period and it never happened. There were three 6-monthly review sessions and at the first two a referral to STEPS was promised. At the third session, just before our son turned 18, we were told that they had misinformed us about STEPS being able to help anyone and that they could no longer help as our son was now at a tertiary college. As such we would warn people to chase these referrals up as frequently as possible and ensure that things actually happen.
Diagnosis as an adult
The recommended process for someone diagnosed as an adult is to ask the diagnosing GP to provide mental health services through either counselling or psychology services. We are not sure at this time what the processes and guidelines say about medication and its usefulness at this stage.If you suspect that you may be suffering from ADHD then there are no pathways that we are aware of that can be taken to confirm a diagnosis. It is recommended to state your concerns to your GP and press for an assessment to be done to confirm. GPs are of varied opinion about the realities of ADHD and other autistic spectrum conditions so it is, sadly, pot luck as to how much support you will receive. In our experience the support can change between GPs in the same surgery.
There are a few online tests you can do that would give you some measure of the effects:
Completing these tests and submitting your scores to your GP may not make much difference due to the abovementioned issue about each being of a different opinion but in our experience it helps to show that you are informed about the condition you think you may have.
In cases where there are other conditions involved (learning or behavioural difficulties, other autistic conditions) then the scope for assistance changes. If you have been diagnosed as having learning difficulties then you are within your rights to contact the Learning Disability team in your area yourself and request an assessment of your needs. The learning disability team has recently reorganised into separate sub-teams for various age groups are were, at the time we spoke to them, merging several smaller teams into this structure to provide what sounded like multi-disciplinary support into each age group.
We have made several requests for information from professionals in Derby and Derbyshire and have received next to no response. Any responses we have had always say that people will “get in touch” but to date no-one has actually responded.
As a result it is difficult for us to provide any useful information to you. All we can say is that the majority of comments we have heard (most of them off the record or in our own family appointments) point to the fact that adult ADHD does not have a consistent approach to support in the county.
I would therefore suggest that the support groups would be the best place to get advice, since personal experiences are often the best indication of where the most effective professionals can be found.
Hopefully this article will be supplemented in the future with more information and maybe some personal experiences other than our own. If you have anything to add then please either comment on this article, post on the forum or email us.