Autism is a complex condition that can pose unique challenges to each individual. Individuals with autism view, see and perceive the world in a different way to non-autistic people. Many people describe a sense of never having quite fitted in or feeling ‘different’ but never quite understanding why.
Some common challenges can include difficulties with social interaction and reciprocal communication, sensory likes and dislikes, and a preference for sameness or routine which results in anxiety if this is disrupted. However, every individual will have their own unique differences and will not experience all the common challenges on a checklist!
Adult Autism Assessment
The challenges and differences that you experience will be assessed via gold standard, evidence based tools. These will be interpreted in the context of your life and developmental history.
What to expect
An assessment will consist of an initial meeting, an observational assessment (ADOS-2), a developmental history with an informant (ADI-R), a discussion with other professionals (e.g. a GP, Social Worker), a feedback appointment, and a written report. Post-diagnostic counselling sessions will be available for an additional fee.
The initial meeting will focus on discussing your current situation and challenges, and determining how you feel about a potential diagnosis of autism. You will be asked to complete some initial autism screening measures, and have the opportunity to ask questions. This appointment will last approximately one hour.
A second meeting will involve an ‘observational assessment’ called the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2 (ADOS-2). Here you will be asked to complete a number of set activities while the assessor takes notes. This appointment will last approximately one hour.
Where possible a third meeting will gather information about your developmental history from an informant (e.g. a close family member, partner, friend) that has known you through your life. This is called the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R). This meeting will last approximately two to three hours.
If you do not have an informant, and cannot recall your early development history, we may ask permission to speak with others who may hold that information about you (e.g. your GP).
In the fourth meeting we will share the outcome of the assessments with you, i.e. whether you have autism or not. We will explain how this outcome has been reached based on the information gathered, professional discussions and considered of the DSM-V diagnostic criteria. You will have the opportunity to ask any questions. This appointment will last approximately one hour.
You will receive a copy of the assessment report in the post, which will include any recommendations that we discussed in the session.
Is a private autism assessment as valid as an NHS autism assessment?
In Short, yes. A good quality autism assessment and diagnosis should be recognised by health and education authorities. There are professional and national healthcare standards that need to be met in order to diagnose autism in the private or public sector. These are outlined below.
In accordance with the NICE guidance (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence):
Clinicians should be registered with a professional body that has statutory powers (such as the HCPC). This means that if standards of practice are not met the clinician could be stopped from working.
A psychologist should be part of the team and have previous training and experience working with autistic people.
Standardised structured assessment tools such as the ADOS and ADI-R should be used.
Information should be obtained from multiple sources including interview and observational data.
Informants are a primary part of the assessment process. If it is not possible to obtain information from a relevant other, then information should be sought from other sources such as GP reports.