We offer comprehensive assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorder for children and young people. To arrange an appointment, please use the contact tab above.
What is Autism
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by difficulties with social interaction, communication and restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests. These are often present in the child’s life from an early stage, but may become more noticeable as time goes by. Traits can present differently in each person and may affect daily functioning in a variety of ways. Whilst such difficulties have been referred to as Asperger’s Syndrome, high or low functioning Autism as well as a range of other labels, the term Autism Spectrum Disorder or Autism Spectrum Condition are used most commonly at present.
Does my child need an ASD assessment?
Many children and adults in the general population have some traits of ASD, but experience little or no difficulties related to this in their day to day life. Parents often contact us for an assessment at times where life has become difficult for their child and there appear to be problems in their functioning at home, school or in their relationships with peers. A comprehensive assessment is often helpful at this stage as it can confirm whether a diagnosis is appropriate. It can also offer an explanation for the difficulties a child or young person is experiencing as well as identifying specific needs. This allows for guidance and recommendations on appropriate support, care and intervention to be made to the family and other professionals involved with the child.
Autism in girls
The signs and symptoms of autism can present in a variety of ways. This can vary significantly between boys and girls, which means that autism can sometimes be more difficult to recognise in girls. At Kent Psychologist we have a special interest in the assessment of high functioning girls with traits of ASD and recognise the sensitivity and expertise required in conducting such assessments.
What will happen during the assessment
We recognise that undertaking a full assessment of ASD is a significant commitment for families. Prior to proceeding with a full assessment we therefore conduct an initial screening appointment to establish whether a full assessment is indicated. During this meeting current concerns and difficulties will be discussed. Where relevant, additional information will be collected through screening measures completed by the parents/caregivers and staff at school. The fee of this appointment is fully deductable from the overall assessment fee, should a full ASD assessment be carried out.
Families should allow at least three hours for a full assessment. During this appointment the family will be introduced to all clinicians involved in the assessment and a brief outline of the process will be discussed. The child or young person then meets with two clinicians to complete the ADOS. At the same time parents or caregivers will complete the 3di with another clinician. Following this, there will be a break during which clinicians will meet and review all available evidence. The family will then be meeting with all clinicians involved in the assessment for feedback. Where possible, a diagnostic decision will be reached on the day and this will be shared with the family. The implications of the diagnosis along with recommendations for next steps will be discussed. Occasionally it may be necessary for further information to be obtained to reach a conclusion and this will be discussed with families, who will then be invited for feedback at a later date.
Who will be involved in the assessment?
Where a full ASD assessment is indicated, this will be carried out by a multidisciplinary team led by a Clinical Psychologist. Within our service we work alongside a range of health professionals, including other Clinical Psychologists, Speech and Language Therapists and Autism Spectrum Condition Specialist Nurses who will join the assessment as appropriate to the child or young person’s presentation.
Which assessment tools will be used?
Our assessments follow the gold standard outlined by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and incorporate the following assessment tools:
The Autism Diagnostic Schedule 2 (ADOS 2) is completed with the child or young person and administered by two clinicians with a specialism in ASD. The ADOS 2 consists of a range of standardised activities the young person will be invited to take part in. This allows the examiner to observe the presence or absence of specific behaviours which have been identified as crucial in the assessment of ASD.
The Developmental, Dimensional and Diagnostic Interview (3di) is completed with parents or caregivers to gather relevant information. This includes information on the child’s development, social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviour or special interests. There will also be an opportunity to share additional concerns or relevant information.
What happens after the assessment?
The findings of the assessment will usually be shared with the parents and caregivers on the day. A comprehensive report and recommendations will also be provided shortly after the assessment and the family are free to share this with other agencies, as they feel appropriate.
We understand that receiving a diagnosis of ASD is often only the beginning of the journey for a young person and their family in seeking the right support to meet their needs. We therefore offer subsequent liaison with other agencies, such as school and support to the young person and family if this is required.
If you would like to find out more or arrange an appointment please contact us.