Advantages and Disadvantages of an ADHD or Autism Diagnosis

Deciding whether to go ahead and get a formal professional diagnosis or not can be a difficult decision for some people. Here we outline some general advantages and disadvantages to help support your decision making.

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Advantages

Self-acceptance: getting a formal diagnosis can help people to understand themselves better. It may help someone understand why they do what they do. It may help them have greater awareness of their strengths, weaknesses and problems they may encounter. If you’re more aware of issues and difficulties, then it can help you to deal with those difficulties and find helpful strategies. You may re-evaluate your life with this new knowledge – “ahhh, that’s why I did/do that!”

Everyone is unique, including people who are autistic or who have ADHD. Understanding your unique strengths and needs can be helpful for anybody.

A formal diagnosis can increase access to help and support. This maybe through formal avenues such as EHCP’s or through workplace schemes and benefits. In schools and universities, it may mean someone becomes entitled to certain accommodations that can support their learning and ability to sit exams.

Formal diagnosis can also be very validating and support people to feel understood and lessen any self-blame. It can bring people certainty and confidence.

We know that neurodivergence can be linked to mental health difficulties. Often due to self-blame and trauma through unmet needs and difficult social and sensory experiences. A diagnosis increases self-understanding and can reduce insecurities. Through getting the correct support and adjustments peoples wellbeing can be supported and enhanced.

Many couples and families struggle with misunderstanding, miscommunication, confusion and other problems. Understanding when a family member is autistic or has ADHD can help improve the difficulties that build up within families and couples.

When people receive a diagnosis, this can help them to access and connect with other people who experience similar things. Understanding that you are not alone, and that others experience similar things can be very helpful. Feeling connected to a ‘community’ helps to improve mental wellbeing and reduce isolation.

“Self-awareness impacts masking on a fundamental and deep level, because being aware about yourself, your strengths and limitations allows you to create strategies that you can use, instead of masking and mimicking a neurotypicals behaviour. Self-awareness allows you to be more yourself than ever before, although it takes some time to actually achieve. However, once you’ve achieved a certain level of self-awareness, things become a little bit easier afterwards.” – THE ASIAN ASPERGIR

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Disadvantages

In some circumstances it may be mandatory for you to disclose your medical records which would include a formal diagnosis. There are a few careers when Autism and ADHD is taken into account and these include the armed forces. Whilst it may not preclude you from joining you would need further assessment and ultimately it could exclude you. For autism it is on an individual basis and for ADHD you need to be 3 years without symptoms and medication free.

Private ADHD and Autism assessment are expensive and NHS assessments often have a long waitlist.

Unfortunately, there is still stigma attached to Autism and ADHD. Whilst there has been a huge movement within the neurodivergent community to help support and educate people there is still some way to go. Some people remain ignorant, and discrimination is still possible.

Autism and ADHD assessments can take time and can be stressful for the person involved. They are often multilevel assessments and can involve various steps, some of which may feel uncomfortable.

Whilst a diagnosis may open up some sources of support it does not necessarily mean that a person will receive much more than before they were officially diagnosed. It can be dependent on what is available locally and access may still require further steps and evaluations.

A person may feel anger at the fact that they were missed for so long, that nobody else realised they were autistic or had ADHD and that they had struggling with sensory and social experiences. This can be a difficult experience post diagnosis.

There is always a risk that the diagnosis is incorrect, whether the result is that one does or doesn’t have ADHD or Autism. Regardless of training and experience, personal feelings, attitudes, and experience factor into the decision-making process of an assessment. We may like to think the Assessments are not devoid of personal influence or error. 

If you do not receive confirmation of the diagnosis that you have been seeking this can be very challenging and upsetting for some people. You must consider how you will feel if you or your child does not receive a diagnosis.

Sometimes people’s sense of identity is affected negatively by a formal diagnosis of autism or ADHD. Depression, confusion, loss of self-confidence, shame, anger, and feelings of failure are only some of the reactions that can occur. For most people these are really typical and understandable feelings and will hopefully ease with help, support and positive awareness and acceptance.

Top 5 Tips for Choosing the Right Therapist

Use these 5 top tips to help you choose the right therapist and avoid common pitfalls

With the COVID Pandemic impacting on people’s mental health there has been a huge increase in the demand for therapy. New online therapy platforms have emerged making therapy more accessible than ever. But it’s a minefield! How do you know what you need or who to pick?

Here’s our top 5 tips to choosing your therapist

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1) Check their credentials

Any Bonafede therapist in the UK will be registered with a reputable association or regulatory body. This gives you someone to complain to if you need to but also means that the therapist will have met certain training criteria. Look for Psychologist who are registered with HCPC. Psychotherapists and counsellors with the BACP, and CBT therapists are registered with the BABCP.

It’s important for you to know that most therapists’ titles are not protected. This means that anyone can use them, and they do not have to have ANY training. It is entirely possible for a Psychology graduate to call themselves a ‘psychologist’ or for someone with no qualifications at all to call themselves a behavioural therapist, a counsellor, or a psychotherapist. 

All these titles can be legitimately used by great therapists, you just must check their qualifications, training and who they are registered with. And if they won’t tell you…..RUN!

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2) Can you have a free consult

Any legitimate therapist should have no problem offering you a free initial telephone or video consult. This is usually 15 to 30 minutes and allows you to get a feel for your therapist and if you want to arrange an initial meeting or assessment. This next initial meeting will cost you but should not tie you into any more sessions and you should be free to look for other therapists if the fit isn’t right.

3) Cheaper isn’t always better!

It might be tempting to go for cheaper therapy, but a word of caution. Cheaper is likely to mean less qualified, and less qualified might mean it takes longer for you to see any results or positive changes. If it takes longer for you get results it may not end up being cheaper in the long run. Don’t be afraid to ask a therapist if they can offer payment plans, bi-weekly sessions, cost reductions or cheaper sessions through block booking.

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Also just take a minute to think about what you spend on your physical health each week? Gym, bicycle, yoga classes, spa, beauty treatments etc, your nutrition? Food shop, supplements, meal boxes etc? Isn’t your mental health worth it? I think so…

Its also important to note that being expensive also doesn’t mean its better – shop around and see what the average cost is for the type of qualified therapist you’re looking for. Therapy shouldn’t be extortionate – but you will find that more highly qualified or specialist therapists will cost you more.

Average costs in UK per hour:

  • Counsellor – £40 – 60
  • Psychotherapist – £40 – 80
  • CBT Therapist – £40 – 90
  • Clinical Psychologist £90 – 175
  • Counselling Psychologist £60 – 150
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4. Do you feel safe with them? 

Therapy can be hard and leave you feeling vulnerable. You may be exploring issues you’ve never spoken about before. It is important that you feel safe with your therapist, that you can trust them and that you do not feel judged by them. You should be able to have open conversations about difficult things and not feel shut down.

5. Do they have experience in your area of need?

All therapists are very different and often specialize in different areas of therapy or mental health. Some therapist work with only adults and some with only children. Others specialize in addiction or a certain type of therapy such as CBT. Make sure that whoever you choose, they can offer you what you need and have experience with your area of difficulty.

So there you have our top 5 tips for choosing a therapist, good luck in your search!

 

BBC uncovers unregulated mental health cures

The BBC recently aired a programme ‘I Can Cure You: Online mental Health Cures’ where Jordan Dunbar (reporter) explored and investigated the murky world of unregulated mental health services and therapists.

As NHS waiting lists reach record levels, more and more people are looking for treatment for their mental health online. Reporter Jordan Dunbar was one of them. He was targeted by adverts promising to cure his depression. As he looked deeper, he uncovered a world of cures and treatments promising to solve disorders like anxiety, OCD and more. All carried out by people with no qualifications. He hears allegations of bullying, manipulation and exploitation of vulnerable people all desperate for help, with companies charging thousands of pounds in the process. With these practices being completely legal, who is looking out for us when we look for help? (BBC)

Did you know that the term ‘counsellor’ or ‘psychotherapist’ is not regulated – anyone can use these titles and they do not need any training to do so. Jordan spoke to many people who in their desperation to receive help and support, sought out therapists or services online. Some of the stories uncovered by Jordon are shocking and extremely concerning.

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One women spoke about being asked to do therapeutic work whilst videoing herself in order for it to be used to publicise the service. She was even asked to repeat videos if they weren’t good enough. Another person spoke about how their therapist cut sessions short, blamed them for the difficulties and conducted sessions whilst out and about shopping and driving! This is exploitation of vulnerable people at a time when they need care and genuine support.

Some titles are ‘protected’ like Psychiatrist and Clinical Psychologist, and therefore you cannot use these titles without the correct qualifications and you must be regulated by the appropriate professional body e.g. HCPC. Other unprotected titles rely on the therapist joining relevant regulatory bodies who monitor and agree training requirements.

So if you’re looking for a therapist – what should you be looking for?

Check out our next blog – Top 5 Tips to choosing the right Therapist