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Are you concerned that you or someone close to you has a neuropsychiatric diagnosis such as ADHD or autism? Here we look at when a neuropsychiatric assessment is appropriate, and how to seek help.

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Undergoing a neuropsychiatric assessment can feel daunting and complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Lavendla makes the difficult easier, so in this article we give you a better understanding of what a neuropsychiatric assessment is and how it works. This is particularly relevant if you or someone close to you suspects a neuropsychiatric diagnosis such as ADHD or autism.

What is a neuropsychiatric assessment?

An assessment is a basic neuropsychiatric assessment of difficulties and strengths that identifies a person’s need for support and assistance. It involves interviews that identify neuropsychiatric symptoms of ADHD and autism in both childhood and adulthood, and how these affect different areas of life such as study, work, and relationships. An ADHD assessment also includes interviews with family members to find out what the symptoms were like in childhood, and cognitive tests to get more information about current functioning.

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The assessment is carried out by both a licensed psychologist and a doctor who is a specialist in psychiatry who collaborate in the diagnosis. You meet with both of them during the assessment. An assessment is an important part of the journey towards deeper self-knowledge and better psychological health. Lavendla is here to help you to get the right support.

Why carry out an assessment?

You may have thought about your symptoms for a long time prior to doing a neuropsychiatric assessment. As an adult, you may have noticed that you function in a slightly different way from others, and had difficulties at school, work or in relationships. For children, the issue may get raised by the school or another parent who noticed something was not right. A neuropsychiatric assessment can provide several benefits and help you gain:

  • Understanding: Clarify your situation and understand why some things are challenging to you.
  • Treatment plan: A diagnosis allows you and your healthcare team create an effective treatment plan. Help is given for concentration, planning and organisation, but also problems such as confidence and self-esteem.
  • Support: A diagnosis can give you access to resources and support that would otherwise not be available. For example, you can receive extra support while studying, even as an adult.

A neuropsychiatric assessment can tell you if you have both ADHD and autism, conditions that often co-exist. While ADHD involves problems with attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, autism manifests itself as difficulties in social situations, rigid routines, and difficulty with change. Both diagnoses have different levels of severity and impact on everyday life. The assessment indicates what level you are and provide measures adapted to your specific situation.

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How does a neuropsychiatric assessment work?

  • First meeting: It usually starts with an assessment visit where we map how your symptoms affect your life in different areas.
  • Testing and interviews: This is followed by tests and interviews with you and your family.
  • Follow-up: After the tests and interviews, a debriefing will take place to inform you of the results and give recommendations for further treatment.

Step 1: Investigation

Taking the step to have a neuropsychiatric assessment is an important part of taking care of your health. It can seem overwhelming, but usually leads to a sense of relief and clarity when completed. A private assessment is quick, with shorter waiting times than public healthcare. If you have questions or want to know about how to get the help you need, don’t hesitate to contact Lavendla. We are here to make the difficult easier.

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Step 2: Assessment for investigation

Prior to the assessment, an interview with a licensed psychologist will take place to go through your background, symptoms and other factors that may explain your problems. Forms will be completed, and self-assessment tests done that are related to your behaviour and difficulties. If you have symptoms that warrant an investigation, we will proceed accordingly.

Step 3: Neuropsychiatric assessment

An assessment usually involves meeting with a licensed psychologist who conducts interviews and testing, and a psychiatrist, who makes an assessment and orders tests. The different parts of a neuropsychiatric assessment for adults in private practice usually include:

  • Interviews: We conduct a diagnostic interview to see how symptoms have affected you during childhood and adulthood in areas such as work, leisure and relationships. To confirm your symptoms have been present since childhood, there is usually an interview with a family member. If a child is being assessed, the school gets involved in the assessment.
  • Psychological tests: which measure attention, concentration and other cognitive functions.
  • Doctor’s visit: Part of the assessment involves seeing a doctor for a neurological assessment and blood tests.

Step 4: Evaluation and diagnosis

After the assessment, the doctor and psychologist will summarise the results and make a diagnosis together. You then receive a thorough review of the results and a psychological report with recommendations for further action. These are adapted to your situation and functional impact.

Step 5: After the assessment

If we make a diagnosis, different treatment options will be discussed with you. This may include:

  • Medication, if necessary.
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) adapted to your problems.
  • Support and adaptations in working life or studies.

It is good to note that a neuropsychiatric diagnosis triggers a range of available support. In the UK, individuals with autism and their families can be eligible for certain disability benefits, such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for adults, or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for those unable to work due to their condition.

How long does a neuropsychiatric assessment take?

An assessment takes about 10-20 hours in total and lasts about 6-8 weeks. Assessments of children tend to be more extensive and take longer. Waiting times through public healthcare are normally long, so a private provider such as Lavendla might be preferred. Treatment can be provided quicker and there is more flexibility in planning, which is why many choose to go private. Lavendla’s waiting times are short and the investigation process is in line with public healthcare. Lavendla makes the difficult easier.

12 common questions about neuropsychiatric assessments

What is a neuropsychiatric assessment?

A neuropsychiatric assessment is a medical evaluation used to detect neuropsychiatric conditions such as ADHD and autism. It is usually done through psychological tests, interviews and observations.

How long does a neuropsychiatric assessment take?

The timeframe can vary but takes between 10-20 hours over a period of two to three months. However, it is important to be patient as a thorough assessment is essential for a correct diagnosis.

What symptoms can lead to the need for a neuropsychiatric assessment?

Common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, impulsivity and social challenges. If you experience these symptoms, it may be an indication that an assessment may be helpful.

Do I need a referral for a neuropsychiatric assessment?

To start a neuropsychiatric assessment in public health care, you need a referral, but if you are doing an assessment privately, this is not necessary.

How much does a private neuropsychiatric assessment cost?

The cost can vary depending on where you do the assessment and whether it is in the public or private sector. Read more about our assessment costs here.

Are the results of a neuropsychiatric assessment confidential?

Yes, all information gathered during the assessment is completely confidential.

What treatment options are available after a neuropsychiatric assessment?

Treatment can range from medication and therapy, to specialised educational methods. An individual care plan is important.

How does a diagnosis affect my life?

A diagnosis can help you understand yourself better and give you access to support and treatment. It can offer an explanation and guidance for the future.

Is it different to be a woman with a neuropsychiatric diagnosis?

Girls and women are often underdiagnosed and hide their symptoms in different ways. Hormones and self-esteem can also be affected in other ways and it is important to get the right help.

I have experienced trauma, can I have a neuropsychiatric diagnosis?

It is important that you receive a thorough assessment that takes into account all your difficulties. There is also an increased risk of being exposed to trauma if you have a neuropsychiatric diagnosis, so sometimes this can be a cause.

Can neuropsychiatric problems be cured?

It is not possible to cure a neuropsychiatric problem but there is help and support available to make it easier to live with.

I have a lot of anxiety and feel depressed, can you help me with that too?

We make an assessment of the different symptoms with recommendations for treatment if you suffer from co-morbidity with other conditions.

Written by dominic

Dominic is a Cape Town-based copywriter and editor with a background in psychology.