There are four routes to get a diagnosis:
- Via the School System
Meet with the administration, present your concerns, and ask them arrange for a psychoeducational (cognitive and academic) and ADHD assessment. In elementary school, meet with the teacher and principal. In junior or senior high, one of the vice-principals or the student centre will be your first contact. With some variation of access across districts, a psychologist hired by the district will assess your child. There is no cost to the parents. Always ask for a meeting so the results and recommendations will be shared with you as well as school staff.
Via Alberta Health Services
If you get an assessment through the medical system, Alberta Health Services will pay for most of the costs. This can involve a general practitioner, a pediatrician, or a child/adolescent psychiatrist. Some doctors charge a small fee to process behaviour checklists (less than $100). Wait times for an appointment will vary but can take months. Advantages include low cost as well as the ability of the doctor to prescribe medication if desired and follow-up. See the bottom of this page for a list of ADHD professionals to get you started.
If you are really struggling at home or school, ask your family doctor or pediatrician to request an appointment with the ADHD Clinic at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. The Glenrose is considered a “tertiary” program; only children with a referral can access these services. The clinic deals with children through age 17 who have ADHD and other difficulties; for instance, comorbidities such as anxiety, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, or OCD. Unfortunately, there is usually a long wait to get into the clinic. Their preference is to focus on difficult-to-treat children. Some children with complex needs may be referred to the Intensive Diagnostic Service at the Glenrose for up to eight weeks for assessment and support.
- Via Private Psychologist
If you choose to have your child assessed by a psychologist, it can cost $1,300 to $2,000 for a full set of tests. Some benefits programs help pay the costs, so be sure to look into this before making an appointment. Also, some benefits programs restrict who you can see or only pay the fees if they have been preapproved or authorized. It is important to know that psychologists can only assess and diagnose.
To receive prescriptions for medication, if that is your preference, you will need either a psychiatrist or medical doctor on your team. Advantages can include faster testing and reporting, and you will probably get more information, overall. Getting the psychoeducational assessment done privately will often speed up the process with the physician and the health care system. See the bottom of the page for a list of psychologists who diagnose and counsel individuals with ADHD. If cost is an issue, you may choose to access the more affordable services of the Education Clinic at the University of Alberta. Graduate students assess individuals and are supervised by a registered psychologist. They currently provide assessment ($500), counselling ($250/year), and vocational testing/counselling ($250/assessment). These fees may change so check before you book. Clients who find these costs difficult can make a formal application for a fee reduction or waiver.
- Via Child and Adolescent Services Association
Child and Adolescent Services Association (CASA) is a non-profit organization providing mental health services. It offers a wide range of assessment and treatment programs for infants through teens with mental health challenges. For children under age 5, call CASA at 780-410-8483. For children 5-18, call Children’s Mental Health Intake (780-342-2701). On the CASA website, go to their Programs or Looking for Help pages for information about the intake process. Please note that CASA’s programs are undergoing some changes. For up-to-date information, it is best to contact them directly.