Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour. Symptoms of ASD are often apparent early in a child’s life. Symptoms exist on a continuum, with milder idiosyncrasies existing alongside far more impairing presentations of the condition.
A standardised assessment enables us to determine whether a child meets criteria for ASD or a social communication disorder. If appropriate, the level of severity can be established with precision. An assessment can offer an explanation for the difficulties a child may be experiencing, providing information to help plan the most appropriate care, education and support longer term.
How is the assessment carried out?At TCFP, we assess and intervene within a systemic framework and we promote the awareness and positive narrative of autism. The assessment is not only aimed to provide a label, but to obtain a careful picture of strengths and areas of need.
Our assessment methodology follows UK National Guidelines as stipulated by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), so that our findings and recommendations can be accepted by the statutory services and other professionals.
In order to meet these requirements, your child will be offered an initial general assessment by a Paediatrician or Psychiatrist. They will take a general medical history, undertake a physical examination if indicated, and ascertain if autism diagnostic assessment is indicated, and to consider differential diagnosis and co-existing conditions.
Following the initial assessment, if the doctor concludes that autism diagnostic assessment is indicated, they will arrange for this to take place as a further appointment(s), again to meet the requirements.
What happens during the autism diagnostic assessment?The assessment is undertaken jointly by two autism specialists, who may be a Paediatrician, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, a Speech and Language Therapist, an Occupational Therapist or a Clinical Psychologist. One of them will administer the ADI/3Di with the parents, while the other ADOS-2 with the young person. Assessment is usually completed on the same day. After the two tests are administered, the specialists will provide feedback on the findings.
ADI/3Di is an interview conducted with parents of children suspected of having autism. The purpose of ADI/3Di is to collect detailed description of your child behaviours in the areas of language and communication, social interaction and play with particular emphasis on the early years of your child. The child is not involved in ADI/3Di test, only the parents.
The ADOS-2 is an assessment of language and communication, social interaction and play for children suspected of having autism. The ADOS-2 consists of direct observation of your child behaviours using a variety of play-materials and activities according to your child level of language and age. The child is actively involved in this test.
Prior to the assessment, your child’s nursery or school will be asked to complete a specific questionnaire with relevance to social communication concerns. Also, you will be asked to forward relevant reports from other professionals who have seen your child to help build up a picture. Such information is very important for the specialists in reaching a diagnostic decision.
Will I get a clear diagnosis after the assessment?In over 95% of cases, following assessment you will be informed whether your child has autism or not, their strengths and needs, and any co-existing conditions. Recommendations will be made and a detailed report will follow.
In a minority of case, the findings may be inconclusive, and further assessment may be recommended. This may involve one of the professionals having a discussion with your child’s school, and in some cases observation of your child in school. Assessment by additional clinicians, such as a Psychotherapist or Clinical Psychologist, may be recommended.
What about post-diagnosis treatment and support?In addition to offering autism diagnostic assessment, we also provide post-diagnostic support such as psycho-education and specialised psychological and SLT interventions. Our services include groups, as well as specialised interventions individually tailored, for both children and young people, and for parents.
We work closely with educational consultants, child and adolescent psychotherapists, speech and language therapists, occupational and physiotherapists and clinical psychologists who can advise on intervention and support.
How much will all of this cost?
Initial general assessment: £500.
Autism Diagnostic assessment : £1600 to £1950, depending on the complexity of the case. This covers administration of ADI/3Di, ADOS-2, feedback to parents and report.
Total cost therefore is £2100 to £2450.
If school liaison, school observation and assessment by additional clinicians are recommended, these will be charged in addition.
Post-diagnosis support and intervention are charged separately.
The Process for scheduling an appointment for an ASD assessment:The contact details for TCFP can be found at our website www.tcfp.org.uk/book-appointment/ Once your request is received, the information will be triaged by one of our clinicians and forwarded to the appropriate doctor. If you have requested an appointment with a particular doctor, your request will be forwarded to the doctor directly.
What happens next?After considering your request, you will be advised who would be the most appropriate doctor to offer an initial appointment with your child. This will either be a Consultant Developmental Paediatrician, or a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. You will be contacted by one of the secretaries who will offer an initial appointment.
For children with mainly developmental or learning issues, it would be more helpful for them to be seen by a Paediatrician. For children with mainly behaviour and emotional difficulties, seeing a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist would be advisable.
If you have requested an appointment with a particular doctor, the doctor will advise if it would be appropriate for them to see you child, or suggest an alternative doctor if they feel this would be more helpful.