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Support for ADHD diagnosis needed


A Wairarapa neurodivergent representative says a government commitment to improve ADHD resources is long overdue.

Autism Wairarapa support coordinator Tracey van der Raaij

The Ministry of Health made the commitment to better resources for those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [ADHD] in a meeting last month.

With the significant overlap between autism and ADHD diagnoses, Autism Wairarapa support co-ordinator Tracey van der Raaij, pictured right, said the change was sorely needed, citing a large gap in adult diagnoses in the region.

“I’ll be happy if this comes to fruition – but actions speak louder than words.

Van der Raaij said while children could receive a diagnosis from a paediatrician, many people questioned “the point in diagnosing an adult?”

“I’d love to live in a world where neurodiversity didn’t hold anyone back.

“ADHD affects social skills, impulse control, executive functioning. It’s not their fault they’re like this. Their brain is literally wired differently.”

She said women and girls were underrepresented in diagnoses, with young girls often masking the symptoms to “fit in”.

“But when they’re older and have kids, it’s a lot harder to hide those traits as a parent.

“There are women who don’t get diagnosed until they hit menopause and they’re dealing with hormones.”

At a meeting hosted by Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick in August, Health Minister Andrew Little committed to addressing the unmet needs of New Zealanders with ADHD


Alongside 25 representatives from government agencies and medical colleges, Little approved six key outcomes, including improved access to medicine, increased understanding of ADHD, a consistent service model, and adoption of new medical practice guidelines.

ADHD New Zealand’s chair Darrin Bull said the government’s announcement was “a historic moment” for Kiwis with ADHD and their whanau.

“Never before in New Zealand have government agencies and the medical profession got together for a full day to address the issues facing those with ADHD.”

Bull said adults were also being left behind, with many seeking an assessment for ADHD in very large numbers – often after the diagnosis of their own child.

Swarbrick, who was recently diagnosed with ADHD, said she was pleased to see the wheels of the health ministry turning.

“This is the roadmap for transformational change to ADHD diagnosis and treatment.”

A spokesperson for Adult Mental Health services [MHAIDS] in Wairarapa said, “MHAIDS do assess, diagnose and treat adults with ADHD, including in cases when the person presents with other symptoms. We support management locally and do not commonly refer to specialists in Wellington or elsewhere.”

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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