Attention deficit disorder—also known as ADHD or ADD, can be challenging, but with a proper diagnosis, education, treatment, and support, it doesn’t have to derail your life. “ADHD is a neurobiological disorder that represents problems at the nerve center where neurotransmitters like dopamine help messages transfer from one nerve to another. It’s important to realize this in order to keep in mind that it is a medical diagnosis for a good reason!” (1)
Finding a provider with the experience you need is not always easy! Practice patience or bring in someone to help and/or keep you going. You may be on the internet or the phone for awhile. You’re looking for someone with experience and a willingness to work with you. Please, don’t make an appointment blindly. ADHD is a serious and chronic condition often extending into adulthood. Comprehensive treatment depends on your chosen provider’s level of experience with ADHD. Working together, you can make a lasting difference in your child’s, your own, or other loved one’s future.
A personal referral can be the best way to find a provider with experience with ADHD. Maybe your family physician knows someone. Or you could ask the child psychologist or social worker from your child’s school. If you can, attend a support group and ask group members if they could recommend someone to diagnose and/ or provide treatment. (Some groups even keep a list of local providers.) If you’re like most of us, insurance coverage is important. Contact your insurance call-line for their recommendations of preferred providers that diagnose ADHD.
See: Find Support for help finding local and online support.
Benefits and/or drawbacks of the Directories
The more rural your location, the less likely you are to find a provider in an ADHD-specific search. Other searches would be more helpful. Some of these sites sort for ADHD while others help find professionals in your area that are most likely to diagnose and treat ADD. TIP: Ask someone (preferably without ADHD) to help you through the process. It’s a difficult and boring job that may have you tearing out your hair in frustration. However, without a diagnosis, you cannot get medical treatment and have no legal recourse for receiving accommodations for work or school.
ADD-ADHD Directories Many of these providers specialize in ADHD & contribute to the community by sharing their time and knowledge freely. Listing information is directly pertinent to help you make the best choice. On the other hand, ADHD Directories have the fewest listings and poor geographical search options which make it difficult to find a provider nearby.
Professional Medical Directories with ADHD Search Options can be a good choice. They all have good geographical searches and may provide a search option for insurance coverage. Most also offer a broad description of the providers’ services. But do your research! Although many providers claim to treat ADHD, far fewer express an interest, let alone a level of expertise.
Professional Medical Directories without an ADHD search option absolutely have the most listings and excellent geographical sort options. Choose providers by the professions most likely to have experience with ADHD, such as Clinical psychologists, neurologists or psychiatrists for the diagnosis process. Look for other professionals based on your individual concerns, such as primary care providers, therapists, social workers or others.
Hospitals – General, Children’s, or Psychiatric
Most children’s hospitals have Behavioral clinics for children. Some hospitals have specialized Attention Deficit Disorders clinics, a few even treat adults. Your best bet is to call or visit their web page. Also, see Find Hospital and University AD/HD Centers from Help4ADHD.
After your search and armed with the names of a few possible providers, it’s time to make some phone calls. A few questions you may want to ask. Note: Finding a provider that can diagnose is an important first step. Ongoing medical treatment, however, may fall to your primary care provider. Additional services are often needed as well to address organization or psychological needs. For any type of treatment, experience and a willingness to work with you are key. If you feel you are not being listened to, don’t settle. Start your search over and get the help you need.
Medical providers, alone, are not the only services you are likely to need. Comprehensive treatment involves much more than getting a diagnosis, therapy or receiving medication prescriptions. Non-medical services you may want to look for include organizers, support groups, lawyers, schools, etc.. You can find many of these using this collection of Supplemental Treatment Providers.
ADHD coaching is increasingly popular and showing promise as an adjunct or alternative treatment option. Coach Alex Hays explains, “ADHD Coaches help people work with their brains, not against them. A coach will invite you to explore how your brain works best and encourage you to experiment with strategies that work with your brain’s natural processing and operating styles. Using these strengths-based strategies will help you achieve your goals.”
Our Find an ADHD Coach section includes sources for ADHD coach training, individual or group coaching as well as Parent coaches. If you cannot afford a personal coach, there are Options to Personal Coaching. Your insurance does not cover coaching fees. Occasionally therapists offer programs or classes for ADHD that DO qualify for reimbursement.
What about insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid?
Treating ADHD can be expensive. Costs for evaluation vary widely. Perhaps as low as $150 to $300, but the average cost is $700 or more. (2) When insurance coverage is a concern, start with your preferred provider book or listing, call your insurance company for a recommendation, and/or start calling your top choices. You might just get lucky.
If finances are a concern, please see ADHD Treatment: Money Matters. You can find articles on how to afford treatment and why it’s so important. You can also apply for insurance or Medicaid and other help for low-income individuals or families, both for diagnosis and medication costs.
For help with other Mental Health issues, try: Finding Mental Health Services
Additional Advice on Finding Mental Health services
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(1) The Source of Diagnosis by Karen Lowry – ADDAdvocate.com – Harvested 10/30/2015 – http://www.addadvocate.com/2014/07/25/source-diagnosis/
(2) How much does it cost to test for ADHD? Consumer Reports report. Harvested 2013
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