10 Tips for Finding Low-Cost ADHD Treatment
Attention magazine Editorial Advisory Board
Attention magazine Editorial Advisory Board
To help you find affordable evaluations and treatment when insurance coverage is lacking and fees are too high, the members of Attention‘s editorial advisory board put their heads together. They compiled these tips out of their collective wisdom and experiences.
If you are an adult with ADHD, or a parent surrounded by chaos, this project can be a real challenge. This is a good time to get creative. Perhaps a friend or relative could help you with this research in exchange for something they need done. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many people feel that the support they receive from other individuals or parents is the strongest help they have. Take advantage of organizations such as CHADD and its National Resource Center on ADHD, ADDA, NAMI, Learning Disabilities Association, and so forth. These national groups offer valuable support and education, as well as useful educational materials such as books, audiobooks, articles, podcasts, and brochures. They provide services (in-person and online) through support groups, training programs, telephone contact, online communities, blogs, conferences, and newsletters. Much of the help these organizations offer is available free of charge.
How can I get my child evaluated and treated for ADHD? It’s tooexpensive and we can’t afford it. Can somebody help me—please?
Your pediatrician or primary care doctor can do the assessment. However, be aware that expertise in ADHD varies greatly—especially with adults. To make your doctor’s job easier, you and a teacher can fill out an assessment checklist before the visit. The American Academy of Pediatrics has an ADHD Toolkit with an ADHD assessment checklist and treatment recommendations. This toolkit is available to doctors and non-medical people. The AAP toolkit provides Vanderbilt Rating Scales for parents and teachers; you can find the toolkit at AAP.org. You can also download the Vanderbilt Rating Scales from other websites. Doctors for adults vary greatly in using assessment tools for ADHD. For an adult ADHD assessment, you can download checklists such as the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRSV1.1) or the ADHD Rating Scale (ADHD-RS-IV).
Your doctor may refer you to another specialist. A psychiatrist or a psychologist can do the assessment. Your doctor may be able to contact a professional colleague who will do a pro bono or sliding scale assessment, or a medication review, or even help with behavioral parent training.
If your child is having significant problems in school, he or she could qualify for extensive psychological and educational testing by the school staff. First,ask through the principal’s office for the education management team. If approved, the school evaluation may include a thorough assessment for ADHD, learning disabilities, and psychosocial difficulties. If your child has significantly impaired availability for learning due to ADHD, then the school is required by federal law to provide necessary accommodations and interventions. Although the school cannot prescribe medication, your doctor could review the school report and possibly follow through with treatment.
Many counties have behavioral clinics that can help an adult or child with evaluation and treatment. Your local county mental health centers and community service boards may be able to provide assessment and treatment services on a sliding scale. The website for the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration lists these nationwide programs. There are also county Early Intervention Programs that will provide services for very young children who need testing and follow up services. Under the US Department of Education, statewide Parent Information and Resource Centers help parents of children with disabilities find resources and provide up-to-date training. For therapy or behavior management, you may find that group therapy or training is more affordable than individual therapy.
Some hospital-based clinics offer services for free or on a sliding scale basis. Hospital clinics are more likely to participate with a wide range of insurance plans. Many hospitals have interns and residents in training who provide treatment under mentor guidance. Some adult and children’s hospitals have specialized ADHD clinics that take finances into consideration. Hospitals that are a part of a large healthcare system can also have outside clinics for low income or uninsured children or adults. Some of these centers will consider sliding scale or free rates.
There are county medical clinics in all states. These clinics provide medical care for uninsured families with low incomes. They may be able to arrange for services with outside specialists if they cannot perform the treatment themselves. These clinics may also provide help with medication. To find these centers, visit the websites of the Health Resources & Services Administration or to the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.
College and university programs set up training centers for future doctors, psychologists, and social workers. Your local colleges may have such a program. This could make assessment and counseling could be affordable.
Clinical research programs may qualify adults or children for an ADHD assessment and treatment. Check out your local academic hospital or the National Institute of Mental Health to see if one of their studies might be a good fit.
Check ADHD websites such as ADDfreesources.net for information on how to look for resources and free assessment forms.
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