Autism Assessments for Children and Young People (5-17 years old)

Autism Assessments for Children and Young People (5-17 years old)

The Edinburgh Practice has created a ‘gold-standard’ assessment service, ensuring that families can access high quality Autism assessments for their children in a timely manner.

The Assessment Process

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is diagnosed by gathering evidence from the young person, their family and by completing a clinical assessment.  As a team we gather information from different sources to see if the child/young person meets the diagnostic criteria for autism or whether their presentation can be better explained by something else, for example, anxiety or learning difficulties. Our child and adolescent team is multidisciplinary, and comprised of clinical psychologists, occupational therapists and a specialist speech and language therapist. In order to provide a ‘gold-standard’ service, we have chosen to use a range of clinically recognised tools. Below is a guide of how our assessments typically proceed.

Stage 1: Initial consultation

The first stage of our assessment process involves an initial consultation. The purpose of this consultation is to give you the opportunity to meet with a member of our team to discuss your child’s presentation and provide some details about your child’s developmental history. Where applicable, both parents or guardians and the young person should attend this meeting which will last approximately one hour.

Following this initial consultation, if full assessment is indicated, we will provide you with a questionnaire to give to your child’s nursery/school to fill out and return to us. We will also need to contact the school/nursery to verify information. This information is vital to the diagnostic process and is essential for us to have prior to us meeting your child.

Stage 2: The core assessment

As parents/guardians, you will meet with one member of our team to complete the ADI-R. This is a standardized interview which includes in-depth questioning relating to your child’s early years and developmental history and has been proven to be highly useful for diagnosing individuals with ASD. It is a gold standard assessment tool and is recommended in current national guidelines.

Your child will also attend the practice to complete the ADOS-2 assessment for ASD. This is a semi structured, standardised assessment which is designed to identify behaviours that are typically related to a diagnosis of ASD.  This is also a gold standard instrument recommended in current national guidelines. This play-based observational assessment involves your child playing with specific toys and undertaking various tasks with a member of the team whilst their interaction is being observed by another team member.

Stage 3: Diagnosis

Following the completion of these assessment processes, the team meet to discuss the young person’s case and the information that has been gathered during the assessment process.  The information is mapped onto the DSM-V criteria for ASD and a decision is reached regarding diagnosis.  If all information is available, the team would hope to feedback to you within 14 days of the clinic assessment.

In some cases, further assessment may be required if it is determined that further clarification and observation would be useful to the assessment process. Examples include a nursery/school observation, an additional speech and language assessment, or a review by a child psychiatrist.  If this is the case then the rationale and timing for the further assessment will be discussed.

Report & recommendations

Following completion of our assessments a written diagnostic report will be completed. We will aim to have this report finalised approximately 4 weeks after completion of our assessment.

Stage 4: Post-assessment support meeting

Whether or not your child receives an ASD diagnosis, we understand that the whole process and outcome may have been challenging for you as a family. Receiving a positive ASD diagnosis for a child can feel overwhelming, and each individual will have differing emotions following the diagnosis. Equally, parents of children who do not receive a diagnosis and where the origin of their child’s difficulties appear to point elsewhere can also feel overwhelmed and helpless as to what to do moving forward. For this reason, we have structured in a ‘follow-up’ meeting, approximately one month after your child’s assessment. This meeting allows you the opportunity to go through the report again if necessary and get clarity on any outstanding queries. Whatever the outcome of the diagnostic assessment, you will be provided with practical resources and recommendations for local services and support groups that may be helpful for you and your family.    

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Autism assessment for children and young people


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