Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterised by persistent and pervasive difficulties with social communication and interaction (e.g. difficulties making and maintaining friendships), combined with restricted and repetitive behaviours (e.g. distress at changes in routine). These difficulties are present across multiple contexts (e.g. both home and school) and negatively impact on the young person’s functioning.
Our autism assessment package has been specifically developed with the young person and family at the centre of the process. Diagnostic assessments involve specialised assessment tools, detailed discussions about the family's concerns and expert formulation of the young person’s strengths, difficulties, needs and recommendations for support.
An appointment with a Senior Clinical Psychologist is offered at the CAYP Psychology clinic, lasting approximately 90 minutes. This involves a standardised observation tool called the ADOS-2. This involves detailed conversation and engaging and stimulating activities to explore how the young person sees the world, and will assess for any additional mental health concerns. An additional cognitive assessment of the young person’s intellectual functioning can be requested and arranged. We recognise that children may feel anxious about this process. A flexible approach, allowing time to build rapport and ensuring the child feels safe during the assessment is our priority.
A video appointment for parents with a Consultant Clinical Psychologist to gather information about the young person’s school history, family experiences and emotional well-being will be completed alongside a computerised interview designed to identify clinical and sub-clinical ASD. This is also completed at the CAYP Psychology clinic at the same time as the young person’s assessment.
Prior to the assessment we require that pre-assessment questionnaires are completed by parents and school to ensure that an ASD assessment is the most appropriate assessment for the young person.
We can assess young people aged 8-19 years old who have fluent and comprehensible speech and are showing traits of ASD. Unfortunately, we are unable to assess children under 8, young people with limited speech, or young people with a moderate to severe learning disability (characterised by functioning 2 or more years below expected levels).
The ‘gold-standard’ approach to diagnosing Autism in children is to have several clinicians involved. This is known as a multi-disciplinary approach and ensures a comprehensive and objective assessment.
An autism assessment is very thorough and we work hard to ensure that the assessment includes all the relevant information to ensure the outcome is the right one.
A detailed discussion will take place between clinicians. The aim will be to understand all the information provided from the assessment so far, and come to a working understanding of what is happening for the young person. There may also be consultation and supervision from a Consultant Psychiatrist if needed, to ensure an accurate diagnostic outcome.
A video feedback appointment is offered for parents with both clinicians, within just one week of the assessment. We recommend that young people aged 11 and over also attend this appointment.
A written report will be made available, outlining the diagnostic outcome (where one can be made), a wider formulation and recommendations most appropriate for the young person. This will be sent to the family immediately after feedback. There will also be an opportunity to request any amendments to the report.