These people were not diagnosed during childhood and as a result did not receive necessary treatments nor did they understand what it was that caused them to be different. These adolescents and adults were left (on their own) to deal with the challenges of living a life with an insidious undiagnosed disorder that often resulted in school, workplace and social failure, and additional coexisting mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, and addictions.
Although ADHD can prove to be a significantly impairing and ultimately costly disorder to government and society, resources for ADHD are even more difficult to access than those for other mental health disorders. "Without management and treatment adult ADHD remains a serious and impairing disorder. Data tells us that less than 11% actually receive treatment, and that on average, adults with ADHD have sought help for 12.5 years without the diagnosis being made," says Dr. David Teplin, an adult clinical psychologist, with a primary focus on ADHD and other adult disorders.
The Surveys: In March of 2013 The Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada (CADDAC) conducted a survey of adults with ADHD and coexisting disorders which was a follow-up of a national survey on adult ADHD. These surveys were conducted to provide a better understanding of the unique challenges faced by adults with ADHD.
Diagnosis/Assessment: The far-reaching impact of ADHD makes it imperative that clinicians diagnose and treat ADHD as early as possible. However, both surveys confirmed that for most adults with ADHD, this did not occur. The surveys found that between 85 and 87% of adults were not diagnosed as children. Even as adults accessing a medical assessment for ADHD is difficult for many. One third of respondents indicated obstacles to receiving their diagnosis, 69% of these due to lack of access to a physician to do so, and 19% due to costs being charged above provincial medical coverage. The ADHD and coexisting disorder survey found that 32% of adults were required to pay a fee for their assessment, almost a third at a cost of $1,000 or more resulting in a two tier health care for ADHD. Interestingly, only 10% reported having to pay a fee to have their coexisting disorder assessed and diagnosed.