How to Navigate the Canadian ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment Landscape
Are you lost browsing websites trying to choose your best path forward for ADHD support? Here are 10 tips to help you figure out what you need when you need it.
Like this headline, but would rather talk to a real person about it? Book a call with our team to explore your ADHD care needs.
The ADHD services landscape in Canada
In Canada, an estimated 1.8 million people are affected by ADHD.
Despite being one of the most diagnosed and treatable mental health disorders globally, selecting the right ADHD support can feel intimidating. Whether you’re certain you have ADHD or are simply exploring the possibility, the road to accessing services isn’t always “ADHD-friendly,” and it’s easy to get lost along the way.
The good news is there are a lot of options out there to help you, from public providers to private health clinics. Finding the right resource and type of health professional to work with can be challenging. Here we provide you with information to make it easier for you to find resources that suit your needs.
You will experience different services depending on where you go – such as the varying expertise and training of the health professionals, the diagnostic assessment tools used, the amount of face-to-face time with your team, the approach and philosophy they follow, and the types of ongoing support offered – the process of choosing the right provider for your unique journey is both essential and overwhelming all at the same time.
So how do you choose what is right for you?
With so many types of care providers to choose from, it can be hard to find the one that is the best fit for your short-term and long-term needs. Just as ADHD shows up differently for everyone, there is no one size fits all to finding the right service. At Springboard, we recommend you investigate all your options before making a choice.
Since that might sound daunting, below we share 10 tips to help you find the ADHD service provider that best suits your needs and those of your loved ones. But first, let’s start with you…
What are your goals for ADHD support?
Before jumping into ADHD assessment or treatment services information, it is important to recognize what your goals are in seeking support to ensure that you are getting your needs and preferences met while avoiding disappointment down the road.
Download and complete this quick 6-minute self-reflection exercise below to help you identify your priorities when it comes to accessing care:
Inspired by the survey, but not in the mood for tips? You can always book a call with our team!
10 Tips for navigating ADHD assessment and treatment services
Now that you have primed yourself with key considerations for your care, here are 10 tips to use while comparing your options for assessment and treatment for ADHD.
By prioritizing elements that are important to you on this list – you can better step into your care criteria and go beyond scrolling websites:
1. Versatility of Services with Best Practices in Mind
“Is the clinic conveniently located or does it offer telehealth/virtual appointment options? How does meeting with my team in-person versus virtually impact my assessment or treatment experience? Most importantly, is the clinic prioritizing best practices over convenience when it matters?”
Explore whether part or all of your assessment can be online or in person, depending on your personal preferences and best practices for the type of psychological testing involved. It could be that there is flexibility with your care team which can make it easier to fit in with personal/work responsibilities. You may also decide to prioritize in person for testing where focusing might be enhanced with structural support to accurately assess your abilities in other domains.
*Key note*: It is important to understand that some types of psychological testing was designed to be done in person. For Psychoeducational Assessments where your learning profile and IQ is explored, it’s essential to be in an environment where your team can get an accurate assessment of your abilities, minimizing risk of being negatively impacted by technological difficulties, and using the testing tools the way they were original designed to be used. Schools are being faced with an inordinate number of requests for accommodation and in response are starting to apply stricter criteria when processing the results of assessments from students. Many schools will no longer accept Psychoeducational Assessments if they have not been conducted in person because the validity of the results are brought into question.
2. Specialization in ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment
“I want to explore whether what I am working through is actually ADHD—and not symptoms resulting from other factors happening at this time in my life or a learning difference or trauma from my past. It’s important that I work with a team that knows focusing issues inside and out—what they are, what they aren’t—and will use their experience to help improve outcomes for me and my loved ones.”
ADHD might seem like a simple diagnosis to make, especially since focusing symptoms are so prevalent these days. To ensure an accurate diagnosis, it is important that your specialist team works with you to explore any other factors such as anxiety, depression, OCD or sensory sensitivities that might be playing into the symptoms you are experiencing. This is key to accurately define any potential diagnosis and treatment plan.
Pro-tip: Consider if the team specializes in ADHD and takes the time to explore your medical/psychological/learning profile throughout childhood right up to the present. By ensuring an accurate picture of your past, including steps to collaborate about your future, you can develop a blueprint for moving forward in new ways.
3. Experience in Cultural Sensitivity or Working with Diverse Communities
“I want to work with a team that understands my cultural background and beliefs. Will my assessment/treatment team have experience working with diverse populations in diagnosing and treating ADHD?”
Cultural factors can influence how ADHD symptoms are perceived as well as treatment preferences. Consider if the team takes a culturally sensitive approach to their assessment and treatment recommendations. Understanding that ADHD may be part of your story but not the only part of your life story is crucial. ADHD often accompanies other life struggles, and it is important first and foremost that you feel safe with and respected by your assessment and treatment teams. Taking time at the outset to reflect on if their approach and client communication has resulted in you feeling heard and respected right from the start is important.
4. Multidisciplinary Approach to ADHD Care
“I imagine a team of individuals taking the time to ask personalized questions about my unique journey. A diagnosis is a big deal, and I want to know it has been thoughtfully considered with a circle of care approach.”
Evaluate if the team involved collaborates and asks essential questions about your experiences. As part of working with a diverse team, there is inherently a need for more dialogue about and alongside you, with the hope of discovering the meaningful answers you are seeking.
5. ADHD Treatment Options
“I want to explore medication management or therapy – or a combination of the two – as an informed part of my ADHD treatment process. Do I have access to different professionals and approaches over time?”
It can be a journey to figure out what type of treatment feels right for you, and it can change over time. Checking to see whether your provider works through assessment into treatment services and includes access to different allied health professionals is worth exploring from the outset.
If medication is something you would like to have integrated in your assessment/treatment care, consider whether this is likely to be a primary ADHD medication or would be part of a combination of current medications/more complex health history. This may suggest you prioritize having a psychiatrist or specialist physician as part of your consulting team.
6. Collaborative Approach to ADHD
“I would like to get formal and meaningful support at my workplace or school, including accommodations like extra time for my exams. Will my ADHD assessment and treatment team collaborate with other healthcare providers (and people in my life) to provide comprehensive care?”
Determine if you may need workplace or school accommodations for ADHD support and discuss which data/psychological testing is necessary for getting this documentation in place. If you are in a program like the International Baccalaureate (IB), starting a post-secondary program, or preparing for standardized testing (such as the LSATs, MCATs, GREs, etc.), key psychometric requirements will be important to determine if you’re eligible for accommodations.
7. Insurance Coverage
“I have access to private insurance, and I want to use it!”
Check your insurance coverage for mental health, as an example, psychological and psychotherapy services are almost always accepted for private health packages. It may be worthwhile to see if the provider you are interested in offers affordable payment options as well.
Pro-tip: Check whether you have any other allied health benefits like Occupational Therapy, this may allow you to access more diversified support. You can find a list of specific questions you can ask your insurance provider on our Pricing & Insurance page. Be informed about when your employer benefits roll out or expire, and what they include. Taking advantage of these resources can help you improve your financial, emotional, and physical health and are there to be used.
8. Strength-based Approach
“I know how we talk about mental health matters. I want to come out feeling more hopeful about my future—what is your team’s clinical philosophy, and how is it embedded in the ADHD treatment journey?”
There are a lot of different ways to talk about ADHD or mental health symptoms and diagnoses. Learning about the provider’s clinical philosophy and how it impacts your ADHD treatment journey can be important for building momentum forward. Asking providers about “how you define or talk about ADHD” can be important foundational information for your care.
9. Continuity of Care
“Can I keep accessing ADHD services over time as my needs or my family’s needs change?”
You don’t need to figure out ADHD alone. If you think it might be important to invite your loved ones to seek support or educational resources in a way that is connected to your care, explore whether the provider you are working with offers support for partners, parents or other loved ones.
10. Wait Times
“How long will I have to wait to see the different professionals I am seeking answers from?”
If you are ready to seek help now, waiting months can be detrimental to your process. Look into options regarding timing for support and always check if they have a last-minute cancellation list. You may even be able to access certain pre-supports, like courses, webinars, or books as you get ready for meeting your support team.
At Springboard, we understand the challenges of seeking ADHD support services from start to finish and hope the above criteria helps you unpack more about what you want and need.
With 15 years of experience supporting the ADHD community, we are constantly working to make accessing ADHD services simpler and more convenient, so you can receive the ADHD care you need when you need it. We’re committed to listening to your personal narrative and experiences, so we can meet you where you are. So, please do reach out and connect!
Springboard Clinic & ADHD Support: Our Promise to You
If you’re seeking a team that values your personal journey, includes highly qualified professionals who collaborate with each other and you, and considers your overall health and future (always with a strengths-based lens) Springboard may be the right choice for you. If you have private health insurance, even better! We also take pride in our shorter wait times and offer both in-person and virtual sessions.
Our aim is to partner with you and your loved ones for the long haul – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Ready to talk to us about your needs? Book a 30-minute call with our team. Additionally, feel free to explore our resources and support for those seeking ADHD assessment and ADHD treatment in Canada. You’re not alone in this journey.