We assess children and young people from the age of 2 years. We carry out a multi-disciplinary assessment, which means that the assessment is carried out by more than one professional and from different disciplines. This approach to assessment is recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).
The multi-disciplinary assessment is conducted by a Consultant Psychologist and Specialist Speech and Language Therapist (SALT) and consists of three parts: talking to you to get your perspective; understanding how your child behaves in other settings such as pre-school or school; and a structured observation of your child.
Getting your perspective
An important part of the assessment is understanding your child’s development and how they behave at home. We call this part of the assessment the ‘developmental interview’ and use the Autism Diagnostic Interview, Revised Edition (ADI-R), a recommended assessment tool by the National Institute of Clinical Effectiveness (NICE). We will ask you about the following:
- What are the basic concerns that led you to ask for an assessment?
- How your son or daughter behaves with you and the rest of the family
- How he/she behaves with strangers
- His/her physical development
- How he/she plays
- His/her general health and wellbeing, including if there are any difficulties with toileting, eating or sleeping (three areas that commonly cause problems with autism)
- Whether he or she is talking or making any kind of vocal sounds
- If he or she goes to nursery or school, how that’s going
Understanding how your child behaves in other settings
Another important part of the assessment is to have an understanding of how your child behaves with other children and adults, outside of the family unit. We send you a form to ask your child’s nursery key person or school teacher to complete. You bring the completed form to the assessment appointment with you. Sometimes we like to hold a telephone consultation with your child’s key person or teacher, but we would discuss this with you and get your consent to do this first.
Observing your child
We observe your child throughout the assessment, but we also carry out a structured observation called an Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). The ADOS is a semi-structured assessment of communication, social interaction, and the imaginative use of materials. The ADOS consists of a set of structured interaction tasks that help assess a child’s social communication abilities and his or her interaction style with an unfamiliar adult.
When the assessment is complete, we give you as much feedback as possible on the day. The majority of our clients leave the assessment clinic knowing if their child meets the criteria for a diagnosis or not. We then draft a comprehensive report which you receive within 2-3 weeks of the appointment.
The report contains details about how the conclusion was reached with recommendations based on what your child’s particular needs are. This may include recommendations of management strategies for your child or the whole family, resources that may be helpful for parents and siblings, signposting to relevant local support services, and recommendations for current or future education.
We assess adults from the age of 18 years upwards.
We offer two levels of assessment for adults: a standard assessment and a comprehensive assessment. The standard assessment consists of carrying out a clinical interview and an observational assessment called an ADOS.
The Clinical Interview
The clinical interview is designed to help us understand as much as we can about you. We will ask about your development as well as what your day to day life is like. Because ASD is a developmental condition, we will want to know what you were like as a small child and to know about your early relationships and any early traumas to exclude the possibility that the difficulties are of more recent origin or due to environmental factors. We will also ask about whether you have any sensory difficulties.
In order to understand as much as possible, this interview is carried out with you and someone who knows you well. It is preferable that this person, whom we call an ‘informant’, knew you as a small child such as a parent or sibling. We understand that this is sometimes not possible so a close friend or a partner would be a suitable alternative. If you have any concerns about having an informant with you during your assessment, we can discuss this beforehand.
Along with the clinical interview, we also conduct a structured observation called an Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). The ADOS is a semi-structured assessment of communication, social interaction, and the imaginative use of materials. The ADOS consists of a set of structured interaction tasks that help assess your social communication abilities and your interaction style.
The Comprehensive Assessment
A comprehensive assessment is where in addition to the above, we also carry out a cognitive assessment. This part of the assessment can give us important information about the way you think and solve problems. The comprehensive assessment can be helpful if there are particular areas of education or work that you find difficult, and/or you would like to understand more about why you may have particular cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Where possible, we can give you your intelligence quotient (IQ). If you are unsure about the level of assessment required, we will be happy to discuss this with you.
When the assessment is complete, we give you as much feedback as possible on the day. The majority of our clients leave the assessment clinic knowing if they meet the criteria for a diagnosis or not. We then draft a comprehensive report which you receive within 2-3 weeks of the appointment. We always send you a draft copy so that we can ensure that you are happy with the report before signing off a final copy.
The report contains details about how the conclusion was reached with recommendations based on what your needs are. This may include recommendations to help your employer make ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the workplace, resources that may be helpful for you or friends and family, and signposting to relevant local support services.