Can you talk about CAPS’ ADHD/autism evaluations?
Date: May 2023
I wanted to ask some clarifying questions about an ADHD testing policy that I have recently heard about. A first year in my department was told to “get tested ASAP since it’s [the ADHD diagnostic test] not going to be covered starting in July.” From what I’ve gathered, CAPS is going to be handling “uncomplicated” cases to allow people to have a diagnosis in-house and get access to medication and documentation, despite the fact that CAPS has never done ADHD/autism evaluations in-house before. I have a couple of questions about this.
- What testing procedures do we have in place in CAPS, given that they did not do ADHD/autism evaluations before now? How are they going to be developed and when will they be in place? Who is going to be developing these screenings?
- Will this testing meet standard requisites outside of Cornell for those taking grad school tests, job accommodations, and further education at other institutions?
Access to medical care is greatly stratified in this country, especially when it comes to things like mental health and disabilities, where insurance frequently lacks coverage. I am concerned that ending coverage of a neuropsychological test or full battery will create “achievement gaps,” as financially struggling and medically complex people won’t know what accommodations will be most helpful for them. To note, Cornell CAPS did communicate that they don’t have many clinicians who specialize in diagnosing ADHD or autism.
“Not on my parents’ insurance”
Dear Not on Your Parents’ Insurance,
Thank you for reaching out and asking your question. As the Graduate School is a partner with Cornell Health and the Student Health Benefits Office, I needed to connect with them to be able to answer these critical questions. Here is what I learned…
Beginning July 1, Cornell Health will expand its scope of care to include industry-standard screening for concentration and attention concerns (ADHD) when clinically indicated and in the absence of complicating medical conditions such as a history of head trauma or seizures.
In past academic years, when this service was not available on campus, Cornell’s Student Health Plan (SHP) included a non-traditional benefit to cover complete neuropsychological testing under any circumstance (for SHP plan members only). With this change, students – regardless of their health insurance plan – will have access to standardized ADHD screening through Cornell Health with just a $10 per visit charge. Cornell Health is currently evaluating well-established screening tools that are accepted best practice for diagnosing ADHD and will be providing more information on this new service in the coming months. Importantly, students can already receive accommodations through Student Disability Services (SDS) without neuropsychological evaluation.
SHP is explicitly designed for Cornell students to provide a high-value plan at the lowest possible cost. To accomplish this, SHP evaluates which services should be provided directly to students through Cornell Health and which services should be administered through our insurance products and off-campus health care practitioners. We are pleased that we will be able to offer this important service through Cornell Health, reducing the burden on students to seek care off campus.
Students covered by SHP who need to seek care off campus when they have complicating medical conditions, such as a history of head trauma or seizures for adults, will continue to have coverage for neuropsychological evaluation. In addition, SHP will continue to provide autism spectrum disorder (ASD) evaluation and testing in non-medical cases for its pediatric members when the evaluation is performed by the appropriate certified/licensed health care professional. The testing that Cornell Health is newly offering in 2023-24 is not meant to be an ASD-specific developmental evaluation.
Official updates will be communicated via Cornell Health’s website later this summer.
As mentioned previously, SDS staff can work with students individually to determine reasonable accommodations that facilitate access to learning, living, and other experiences. For accommodations related to ADHD symptoms, SDS works with students to gather information from various sources – and while formal neuropsychological testing can be helpful to the process, it is not required to receive accommodations at Cornell. Learn more about SDS documentation guidelines.
The CAPS staff have offered support groups; one is “Finding Your Focus” for students with ADHD or ADHD symptoms, and in some semesters, CAPS offers an autism spectrum counseling group.
If you would like to discuss questions related to testing at Cornell Health, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have more questions about the Student Health Plan, please email email@example.com. Also, if you would like to discuss this more freely with other graduate students, please keep your Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GPSA) in mind. They are most interested in the student life experience and can help advocate at a university-level in our shared governance structure. More information is found on the Office of the Assemblies website. And I am always happy to talk with you about this further.
Senior Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Life