It is very important to ensure your child’s assessment is carried out by a clinical team who are specifically trained and experienced in diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder, to ensure they consider all aspects of your child’s life and health - including any other health conditions that may be present.
The ‘gold-standard’ approach to diagnosing Autism in children is to have several clinicians involved – this is known as a multi-disciplinary approach and it ensures a comprehensive and objective assessment is achieved.
- Pre-Assessment Questionnaires – we will ask parents and the child’s school to complete questionnaires that are important in understanding how the child behaves in different environments and what challenges they experience.
- Child Appointment – the child will meet with a specialist trained member of the team, who will spend some time with them (typically up to an hour) using toys, games and conversation to understand how the child sees the world. Whilst it should be a fun experience for the child, the examiner will be using an evidence-based tool to assess the child against the specific criteria relevant to Autism. This tool is called the ADOS-2 – Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule.
- Parent Appointment – a key part of the diagnosis is to understand the child’s development, which is why the parent will meet with another member of the team to review the child’s full developmental history in depth, using the ADI-R – Autism Diagnostic Interview Revised.
- Diagnostic Report – following the two face to face appointments the clinicians will collate all the information that has been gathered, formulate this together and discuss the findings with the Clinical Lead. Following this, a comprehensive report is written, with a clear diagnosis (where one can be made) and further recommendations.
- Feedback Appointment – all too often parents receive the diagnosis, but are offered no further feedback or support input thereafter - instead they are left feeling ‘What is next?’ and with many unaddressed questions. As as part of our assessment process, the parent and child will meet with one member of the team once again to have time to review the findings of the assessment (and the diagnostic implications of these findings), and to address any questions arising before the final report is prepared.
Is this assessment right for your child?
This assessment package is right for a child if:
- Aged between 31 months to 18 years of age.
- A parent or guardian suspects that a diagnosis of an Autistic Spectrum Disorder is likely.
- The child’s GP, local NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service or School have either raised or have been made aware of concerns in relation to the child’s social interaction and / or their development of communication and have suggested an Autism Diagnostic Assessment would be helpful.