The role of Disability Living Allowance in the management of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder


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Abstract

ObjectiveTo explore the use of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) by families of children and adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and to discuss the implications for clinicians involved in their treatment.Study designOpportunistic survey of patients attending ADHD clinic.SettingUrban area in the north-east of England.SubjectsA total of 32 carers of children being treated for ADHD with methylphenidate.InterventionSemi-structured telephone interviews about receipt and use of DLA. This involved open and closed questions and a multiple-choice section.ResultsIn total, 19 out of the 32 families were receiving DLA. They chose to use it mainly to replace clothes and furniture and to provide diversions and activities for the children concerned. Some families were unaware of potential eligibility for DLA, whereas a few had chosen not to apply. Only one family's application for DLA had been unsuccessful. Carers were unanimously positive about the extra income.ConclusionsFamilies view DLA as an important means to replace damaged items and to fund recreational activities to contain over-activity. Families receive little formal guidance on ways of using DLA money to support children with ADHD. Virtually no specific training in benefits awareness is provided to general practitioners and child health specialists, who are often asked to judge the child's level of impairment or incapacity. Applying for DLA may affect the therapeutic relationship for good or ill. There is a need for professionals in contact with children with ADHD to inform families of the possibility of receiving DLA and support them in applications. As diagnosis and treatment of ADHD becomes more commonplace, more families are likely to be entitled to claim DLA. This has definite implications for the social security budget.

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