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Are you wondering if you or someone close to you has a neuropsychiatric diagnosis such as ADHD or autism? If so, a neuropsychiatric assessment may be appropriate to get a diagnosis.

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Undergoing a neuropsychiatric assessment can feel scary and complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. We make the difficult things easier, and in this article, you will better understand what 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?

A neuropsychiatric assessment is a basic evaluation 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 see the symptoms in childhood and cognitive tests to get more information about current functioning.

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The assessment is carried out by a psychologist and a psychiatrist, who collaborate with the patient in making the diagnosis. You will meet both of them during the assessment. An assessment can be essential to the journey towards deeper self-knowledge and better psychological health. At Lavendla, we want you to get the right help and support.

Why do an assessment?

Often, people have thought about it for a long time before assessing a neuropsychiatric disorder. If you have a child, the question may have arisen from the school, or you, as the parent, may be wondering. As an adult, you may have noticed that you function slightly differently and have had some difficulties at school, work or in relationships. An assessment can provide several benefits and help you gain:

  • Understanding: To clarify your situation and why some things may be more challenging.
  • Treatment plan: You and your healthcare team can create an effective treatment plan with a diagnosis. You can get help with concentration, planning, organisation, and 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 are entitled to extra study support even as an adult.

A neuropsychiatric assessment can tell you if you have ADHD and autism, conditions that often coexist. While ADHD involves difficulties with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, autism manifests itself as difficulties in social situations; you often have special interests and may have trouble with change. Both of these diagnoses have different levels of severity, with more or less impact on everyday life. The assessment will tell you your level and provide measures adapted to your situation.

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How does a neuropsychiatric assessment work?

  • The first meeting Starts with an assessment, during which you map how your symptoms affect your life.
  • Testing and interviews: This is followed by tests and interviews with you and your family.
  • Follow-up: After all the tests and interviews, there will be a debriefing, at which you will be informed of the results and recommendations for further treatment.

Step 1: Deciding to get help

Having a neuropsychiatric assessment is integral to caring for your health. It can initially seem overwhelming, but it usually leads to relief and clarity when it’s done. A private assessment is quick, as we often have a shorter waiting time than public healthcare. If you have more questions or want to know more about how to get the help you need, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to make the difficult things easier for you.

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Step 2: Investigation

Before the actual assessment process, we start with an assessment interview with a psychologist, during which we discuss your background, symptoms, and other factors that may explain your problems. You will also complete forms and self-assessment tests related to your behaviour and difficulties. If you have symptoms that warrant an investigation, we will proceed.

Step 3: The 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 your symptoms have affected you in childhood and adulthood in areas such as work, leisure and relationships. To make sure that your symptoms have been present since childhood, we usually also have an interview with a family member. The school is also involved in the assessment of a child.
  • Psychological tests: To measure attention, concentration, and other cognitive functions.
  • Doctor’s visit: As part of the assessment, you will see a doctor for a neurological evaluation and blood tests.

Step 4: Evaluation and diagnosis

After the assessment, the doctor and psychologist will summarize the results and make a diagnosis together. You will 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, we will discuss different treatment options 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’s also worth noting that a neuropsychiatric diagnosis also comes with certain rights, such as a study mentor and more time for exams.

How long does a neuropsychiatric assessment take?

An assessment takes about 10-20 hours in total and is conducted over 6-8 weeks, depending on the extent of the evaluation. Assessments of children tend to be more extensive and take a little longer. Waiting times in public health care can be long, so it may be best to carry out a private investigation. These can often be done faster and give you more flexibility in planning, which is why many people choose this route. At Lavendla, we have short waiting times and work the same way as in public care. Here, you can get support and an improved quality of life.

12 FAQs about Neuropsychiatric Assessment

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 it takes 10 to 20 hours over 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 indicate that an assessment would be helpful.

Do I need a referral for a neuropsychiatric assessment?

A referral is necessary to start a neuropsychiatric assessment in public health care, but it is unnecessary if you are evaluating privately.

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.

Are the results of a neuropsychiatric assessment confidential?

All information gathered during the assessment is confidential and protected by the Protection of Personal Information Act of 2013.

What treatment options are available after a neuropsychiatric assessment?

Treatment can range from medication and therapy to specialized educational methods. Thus, an individual care plan is essential.

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 manifest their symptoms in different ways. Hormones and self-esteem can also be affected in other ways, and getting the right help is essential.

I have experienced trauma. Can I have a neuropsychiatric diagnosis?

You must 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 it is possible to get help and support to make it easier to live with. Follow-up after the investigation is essential, and you may also be entitled to additional support.

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

We assess the different symptoms and recommend treatment if you suffer from co-morbidity with other conditions.

Written by samantha

Sr. Samantha Pieterse is a registered psychiatric nurse who is deeply committed to mental health and well-being. Samantha brings a unique and valuable perspective to her role as an editor for Lavendla South Africa. She has worked in Government and Private mental healthcare institutions in Gauteng and her expertise ensures that the articles on our website are accurate and accessible. Samantha is dedicated to enhancing mental health awareness and education in South Africa.