Highland is a NAIT neurodevelopmental pathways pilot site. This means that NHS Highland has received funding to look at how we might deliver assessment, diagnosis and treatment services for adults who present with likely ADHD.
A local pathway has been developed and is now in the early stages of implementation. The pathway is accessed through referrals to catchment Community Mental Health Teams through usual processes. It is intended that implementation will progress through a phased approach.
However, ADHD is a condition that has a number of key differences from other conditions that are referred to our teams. As such, ADHD has specific referral criteria and a threshold for referral which is both specific to the condition and the phase of the local implementation plan.
The increase in adult patient consulting for and requesting assessment of ADHD is multi-factorial.
- Progression in the scientific understanding of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has led to a greater awareness of the condition as a form of lifelong neurodivergence, rather than a childhood developmental disorder that is always outgrown.
- From epidemiological data, it is understood that there has been a historical underdiagnosis of ADHD in Scotland. ADHD is one of the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disorders with a likely prevalence of around 1 in 20. Historically, diagnoses have not been made at this rate, resulting in significant under-diagnosis in adulthood.
- In response to demand from the neurodivergent community, increased awareness, assessment and diagnosis of neurodevelopmental conditions in children, young people and adults is Scottish Government policy (e.g. Scottish Strategy for Autism). This work is supported by NAIT (National Autism Implementation Team).
- Adults with ADHD are sending a clear message of the benefits of diagnosis for understanding supports/strategies that help and the stress caused by being unable to access assessment.
- This intended increased awareness, in line with government policy, has contributed to increased awareness in the population, mainstream media and social media.