Risks Associated With Undiagnosed ADHD and/or Autism: A Mixed-Method Systematic Review
Authors: Blandine French, David Daley, Madeleine Groom, Sarah Cassidy
Commentary by Dr. Doron Almagor*: The paper investigates the challenges faced by individuals with undiagnosed ADHD and/or ASD. Their research aims to elucidate the challenges and repercussions faced by individuals living with undiagnosed ADHD and ASD. The primary findings revealed three major areas of concern: pronounced academic underachievement, heightened mental health complications, and a conspicuous increase in risky behaviours among the undiagnosed cohort. To arrive at these conclusions, the researchers conducted a systematic review, sourcing data databases such as PubMed, PsycINFO. Their approach was bifurcated into qualitative and quantitative analyses. Qualitative data offered a deeper understanding of personal experiences, feelings of isolation, and internal struggles of undiagnosed individuals. On the other hand, quantitative data provided measurable metrics on academic outcomes, mental health statistics, and engagement in potentially harmful behaviours. For clinicians and healthcare professionals, this study presents several actionable takeaways. The results accentuate the necessity of early diagnosis and the adoption of an interdisciplinary approach. Regular screenings, particularly tailored for high-risk demographics, are of paramount importance. Despite the rise in ASD/ADHD diagnoses and better awareness in recent years, many remain undiagnosed. Research consistently shows that early diagnosis and treatment can mitigate mental health risks associated with these conditions. The study underscores the profound impact of not diagnosing, particularly on mental health, substance use and markers of educational and social well-being.