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Moving on from child ADHD service to adult services

The ADHD Adult service takes over from the Child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) when a young person enters adulthood.

In CAMHS, young people using ADHD medication are encouraged to have a trial of a medication-free period (over the school holidays or at weekends) around a year before their transition to adult services. Depending on theirs and their parents observations, we agree if treatment will be continued post 18. If they need to continue ADHD medication, a transition to the Adult services is required for continuation of care.

This transition is a big change, and change can be hard. Here’s how we try and make it easier for the young person.

Most of the young people we see transitioning to adult services have been with CAMHS for several years. They may have seen just one clinician during their reviews, so transition can be a stressful time.

We need to plan for the transition period and schedule it so that it’s less worrying, because it’s important that the young person knows what to expect. Involving parents in the transition can alleviate anxiety too while making it exciting and real.

I tend to start by giving an overview of the service user’s journey in CAMHS reminding them that this change is a positive one. I share lots of information and make sure that the young person understands what it means to be transitioned.

We fill in a transition form to gather the young person’s details, medical history and their ADHD symptoms. It gives us the opportunity to have a discussion so that I can find out how much the young person understands about their ADHD symptoms, organising their lives around their treatment and future reviews with the Adult service. I like to make sure they have information about the location of the clinic, how long until their first appointment (which is normally a year from referral) and discuss how they might plan to get there. If they’ll be going to their appointment without a parent, we touch on what needs to be discussed there.

My role while assisting with the transition is to reinforce the importance of complying with the ADHD regime as such an exciting stage in the young person’s life. In order to make transitions even smoother I am currently working with the ADHD adult services to understand the experience of young people and parents post-transition. This will hopefully prepare clinicians to make the experience of transition less anxious and more thrilling.

I must admit it’s hard sometimes saying goodbye to a young person and family that could have been in your care for up to 12 years. But it’s also great seeing them moving on in life to possibly great ventures. The young people I transition often have the same ambition and passion as youngsters without ADHD. Numerous services users go to university and achieve amazing grades, others into apprenticeships and college. Some are eager and ready to start adulthood and employment. 

I remember a young man saying to me: ‘transitions are hard at first but not for long. With some acceptance, adaptations, refocusing, and planning, I am more able to enjoy where I am and what I’m doing, right now’. I believe this is the such a great positive attitude.

Remember there is help out there. If you need support, you can call the YoungMinds Parents Helpline on 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday 9.30am – 4pm) or find resources for parents of children with ADHD. Parenting Special Children provides specialist support for parents in Berkshire. 

And we also have lots of information on our ADHD pages.


About the author

Nazmah Allymamod is an ADHD Specialist Practitioner