05/01/2018

Autism Assessment Process Pt1

After waiting 2 years we've been booked in for an autism assessment. Unsure of what to expect I googled but it's difficult to find the specifics as it differs by area. After asking around it seems most are unsure of what to expect. With that in mind I thought it could be useful to put what little info we have out there.
AUTISM ASSESSMENT PROCESS
(ADOS is actually only stage 2)

The info here is from our provider. This is just our experience of this. Although the basics are the same, nationwide the process varies by area & provider. It will also be different for adults. Our provider has sent us an information letter which I have used for the following info. Our assessment begins in a couple of weeks so I'll inform as we go.

Assessment Format
Children are assessed for social communication difficulties to determine whether they meet the criteria for ASD. A comprehensive assessment is undertaken with a multi disciplinary team (MDT) exploring strengths and difficulties in various settings. The process takes 4-6 weeks, the child attends 1 clinic appointment, the parent/carer attends 2. This is standard procedure but additional assessments will be undertaken if required.

Triad of Impairments

1. Parent/Carer Interview
The clinician asks questions about the child and will record the answers. The questions are about the child's social communication skills & the development of these skills. This usually lasts 60 minutes.
I have found that this is a computer based interview (as in the questions are in a standard computer programme) and that they go right back to birth. I've dug out the red book and DLA form for reference!

2. Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule
The ADOS is a play based assessment that provides opportunities to observe any difficulties associated with autism. Activities are introduced by the examiner (one of the MDT) with a second observer present (also MDT) and once completed are rated for features in the triad of impairments associated with autism.
Activities for younger children include play, response to name, anticipation of routine & looking at books. Older children may tell a story, make believe, talk about events and discuss certain topics. This is usually completed with the child only but we know that this isn't always possible. This usually takes 45-60 minutes and will take place at the same time as the parent/carer interview.
I have been told i can take someone along with us to go into the play based assessment so they're obviously aware that children are more comfortable if someone they know is present.

3. Speech & Language Appointment
This may involve the child completing specific language assessments in clinic or school. If the child is already under Speech & Language the assessment will not be required, but information will be received and reviewed. Observations will also be made during the ADOS. 

4. Social Observation
This is completed in an educational setting. We will be looking for strengths and difficulties in social communication skills & getting further information from teaching staff.

5. Feedback & Report
Once assessments have been completed and reviewed we offer a feedback session & report to explain our findings. This is usually with parent/carer only but a child or young person may attend if appropriate. We work with a strict criteria for diagnosing autism and a diagnosis will not always be given. We will always offer recommendations to help the child in developing strengths and supporting difficulties.