Parliament is holding a debate about ADHD and autism assessments – and they want to hear from you

The debate has been scheduled after two petitions calling for more funding for autism and ADHD assessment services amassed over 30,000 signatures.

People who have ADHD or autism, or think they might, are being urged to share their experiences ahead of a parliamentary debate into funding for assessment services.

The debate, which will take place on 6 February, was scheduled after two petitions – one calling for an increase in funding and review of ADHD assessments, the other calling for an emergency fund for autism and ADHD assessments – reached over 30,000 signatures.

Now, ahead of the debate, the Petitions Committee – a cross-party group of MPs who consider the petitions started on the government website – has released a survey to give those who use the current system a chance to share their experiences.  

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The survey is completely anonymous and takes approximately two minutes to complete. It asks about your experiences accessing assessments for either ADHD, autism or both.

As stands, waiting times for both autism and ADHD assessments far exceed the 18-week maximum waiting time outlined under the NHS constitution; at the end of 2021, a survey by the charity ADHD action found that a third of adults awaiting assessment for ADHD had been waiting over 13 months, and NHS data from summer last year showed that over 100,000 people were waiting for an autism assessment, with the vast majority (over 80,000 people) having waited longer than 18 weeks.

In this way, many people who suspect they have ADHD or autism are forced to seek a diagnosis from a private provider, or face a long wait for the support they need.  

It’s for this reason why Leanne Maskell – an ADHD coach at ADHD Works and author of the new book ADHD: An A To Z – is urging those who have experience of seeking assessment to make their voices heard by taking the survey.

“Being assessed for ADHD or autism should not be a privilege for only the rich and famous,” she tells Stylist

“I was very fortunate to be able to skip my GP’s seven-year waiting list by paying £1,000 for a private assessment that saved my life. But even then, I was expected to pay £300 a month to access medication – forever. When you consider that adults with ADHD have a five times higher risk of suicidal ideation than those without ADHD, it’s clear that this urgently needs our attention.” 

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Maskell continues: “Having written ADHD: an A to Z, worked in mental health legal policy and presented on ADHD to Directors of the World Health Organization, I know how effective it can be to empower people to with accessible tools and information – especially those who have felt helpless for so long.

“The fact that Parliament is holding this debate validates each and every person’s struggles in accessing support they desperately need – a reminder that despite being different, we are not alone, and change is possible.”

A summary of the responses recorded by the survey will be published on the parliamentary website. It will also be shared with MPs and may be referred to during the debate or in parliamentary documents. You can find out more about the survey and submit your experiences by visiting the survey link.  

Frame Of Mind is Stylist’s home for all things mental health and the mind. From expert advice on the small changes you can make to improve your wellbeing to first-person essays and features on topics ranging from autism to antidepressants, we’ll be exploring mental health in all its forms. You can check out the series home page to get started.

Images: Getty

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