ADHD Service

ADHD Service

Management of ADHD  Support  Medications for ADHD  Medication Review Clinics  Prescriptions  Transition Process

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neuro-developmental disorder where children have difficulty with attention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. Their difficulties must be evident in more than one setting (for example, school and home) and be significant enough to interfere academically and/or socially. In most circumstances we see school-aged children for assessment and would normally only be able to diagnose after the age of six.

There doesn’t have to be behavioural difficulties or learning difficulties. ADHD can manifest in various forms, such as a person not being able to concentrate or organise themselves. They will not necessarily be hyperactive. Although these traits can be distressing and cause problems for some, they provide creativity, energy and determination. In fact, a number of famous people have disclosed they have ADHD. These include the most decorated Olympian Michael Phelps, TV chef Jamie Oliver, musician Will.I.Am, and actor Emma Watson.

Many of the behaviours commonly associated with ADHD can also be explained by other factors including early life experiences, poor sleep or a range of other developmental conditions. Part of our assessment process involves evaluating how much of a role, if any, these other factors play and attempting to identify so as to exclude these. This is vitally important because, although getting a timely diagnosis of ADHD is really important it is also crucial that a child or young person isn’t wrongly diagnosed with ADHD if there are other explanations or underlying conditions that are causing the challenges they are facing, that way they can get the correct support and guidance at the right time.

How is ADHD assessed at Alder Hey?

ADHD is diagnosed through the assessment and review of the problem both at school and at home. It is not diagnosed with blood tests or scans. The main sources of information will be school and home and will be gathered in the form of specific questionnaires. If you have any additional information for example school reports and Ed Psychology reports as these can also give us useful supporting evidence at referral.

  • Referral to us: The first step is for School Special Educational Needs Coordinators or an appropriate member of the teaching staff to submit the referral form below. If a GP wishes to make a referral they can do so but we will then need to contact the school and request the information so if possible it is much quicker if the school can make the referral in the first place.
  • If the evidence in the referral form meets our criteria for acceptance, which is drawn from the DSM 5 and NICE guidance for ADHD, then we will send out ADHD Questionnaires to parents to be completed by parents/carers and school. These questionnaires are tools that have been researched and seen in published work to be valid for assessing the likely presence of signs of ADHD
  • Your child will be accepted within the Alder Hey ADHD Service ONLY on receipt of all these documents. If we do not get a response, your child will be discharged from our service because we can’t proceed without them. It’s therefore really important to let us know if there are any problems getting the forms back to us.
  • Once returned, the information will be assessed, the questionnaires scored to determine if they reach the clinical threshold for ADHD. If this is the case, you will be invited to attend a Neurodevelopmental History Appointment, where a team member will take a detailed family history and a history of the child or young person’s life from pregnancy through to present day. We don’t expect the child or young person to attend this meeting with their parent/carers but may ask for them to be present for part of it for us to make some direct observations. We will agree with you  which is the best way as it will depend on whether the appointment is virtual or face to face and whether there are any other opportunities to observe your child or young person.
  • Please note, if you fail to attend your child’s Neurodevelopmental History appointment without notifying us in advance or calling to rearrange then you will be discharged from the service at this point.
  • If the information available doesn’t give us strong enough evidence on which to make a decision then we may arrange a further assessment using a QB test (this is a computer based test designed to contribute to an ADHD assessment) or Specialist School Observations (in the classroom/playground) to provide us with more detailed or specific information. None of these tests can diagnose ADHD by themselves but can add valuable missing information that when put with the other details help us to make a decision about whether your child has ADHD or not. 
  • If the evidence presented at any stage of the assessment is not suggestive of ADHD, we will not continue but may discuss alternative services or lines of enquiry at this point the child or young person will be discharged as we have completed our work at this point.
  • Any re-referrals to the service will require additional supporting information to that wasn’t evident in the initial referral and will be accepted after 6 months.
  • Once we confirm that a child or young person has ADHD, parents/carers will be invited to attend an ‘ADHD Information Workshop’. Attendance at this Workshop is essential prior to starting medications. We will discuss how we made the diagnosis, different treatment options and provide you with information and links to useful websites and organisations. You will be given a chance to ask any questions you might have to a team member.
  • If you decide to go for the ‘medication approach’, you will be booked into one of our ‘Medication Initiation Clinics’. This is a clinic where a team member will carry out a physical assessment and discuss the prescribed medication and side effects, they will also let you know when the next follow up appointment should be.
  • If you do not want medication, then you will be discharged into the care of your GP with information about other services that offer support and guidance around ADHD. The GP can refer your child or young person back in to the same point of the service at any time in the future.

If for any reason you are unable to keep your clinic appointment, please contact the ADHD Team and request to re-schedule. Contact details can be found at the bottom of this page.

Please note that it is a parents/carer’s responsibility to provide up to date contact details and notify us of any changes in these. Otherwise we will be unable to contact you for appointments and the child or young person may be discharged from our service.

Referral form

Please find below the link to our ADHD referral form. The quickest and most efficient method of referral for ADHD is from the School Special Educational Needs Coordinators or an appropriate member of staff as this will avoid delays in the process. This referral form can be submitted electronically by saving it into a PDF format and emailing it over to our Booking & Scheduling team refertoalderhey@nhs.net. Further guidance is attached to the form itself.

Click here to download the referral form

Further Information

For more information regarding ADHD and its management please follow the links below:

Contact Us

ADHD Admin Desk: 0151 252 5437 or 0151 252 5345

EmailADHDQueries@alderhey.nhs.uk 


Alder Hey Children's Charity
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