Finding a specialist for an autism or ADHD assessment

Brain drawing

I recently got diagnosed with autism and ADHD, and I had a great assessment experience.

My psychologist was kind, smart, and LGBTQ+ friendly. They were knowledgeable in how autism & ADHD can present in adults of marginalized genders, and they validated my experiences.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how I found my psychologist, so I’ll explain the process in this post.

Psychology Today’s directory

I used Psychology Today’s directory of therapists to find my psychologist.

You can search by location and the conditions that you want your therapist to specialize in. Psychology Today lists therapists from around the world including Canada, USA, Sweden, France, Australia, etc.

Who is qualified to diagnose?

Psychology Today’s directory of therapists includes social workers, counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Depending on where you live, only psychologists and psychiatrists may be qualified to give official diagnoses. In other places, social workers may also be qualified to diagnose.

For example, in Ontario, Canada, psychologists and psychiatrists are qualified to diagnose, but social workers, psychotherapists, and counsellors are not.

Selecting a therapist

When searching through the lists, I looked for psychologists and psychiatrists specializing in autism, including autism in adults. Their profiles often list what ages they work with, whether they’re LGBTQ+ friendly, etc.

Contact a couple therapists that meet your criteria. Ask them about their prices, their process, how long their waitlist is, whether they are experienced in adult presentations, and any other questions you may have to determine if they would be the right fit for you. You can usually email them directly from their listing.

Once you have gotten responses, pick the one that best meets your criteria.

How much does an assessment cost?

From my experience, quotes for autism diagnostic assessments ranged from $900-$4000 CAD + tax. The price is partially determined by what kind of assessment is conducted and whether you want written reports. An official diagnostic report and/or psychoeducational assessment may be required to get accommodations in school and/or work depending on where you go to school/work.

Free assessments in Canada

In Ontario, Canada, OHIP covers assessments conducted by psychiatrists (but not psychologists or other types of therapists) if you get a referral from a general practitioner. The wait time may be longer, but seeing the psychiatrist would be free. To take this route, ask your GP for a referral to a psychiatrist.

In addition, in Canada, general practitioners (aka family doctors) are qualified to diagnose. Getting a diagnosis through a GP would be free. The downside is that most GPs lack expertise in neurodevelopmental conditions and may rely on stereotypes of autism and ADHD when assessing for them

Lastly, if you are a university student, you may have access to a free psychologist or psychiatrist. Ask your university’s health care centre about your options.

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