Autism assessments for children and young people: A Guide for Parents & Carers

Understanding Autism

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how individuals communicate and interact with the world. It is a spectrum disorder, meaning it can vary in severity from person to person. Recognizing signs of autism in children may include:

  1. Not responding to their name
  2. Avoiding eye contact
  3. Engaging in repetitive behaviors like lining up toys
  4. Strong negative reactions to certain tastes, smells, or sounds
  5. Difficulties in making friends or preferring solitude
  6. Rigid adherence to daily routines and resistance to changes
  7. Challenging behaviors such as biting, pinching, or kicking
  8. Putting non-edible objects in the mouth or self-injurious behavior
  9. Repetitive play patterns with little variation
  10. Choosing the Right Assessment Path

Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is crucial in ensuring appropriate support for your child. However, selecting the right assessment option can be challenging due to reliability and support concerns. In this guide, we will provide detailed information about our assessment procedures and diagnostic methods, equipping you with the knowledge needed to confidently choose the best path for your child.

Completing Pre-Assessment Questionnaires

Upon booking the assessment appointment, you will be provided with questionnaires to complete through an online portal or email. These questionnaires are trusted tools that help establish if your child is likely to be autistic or have other co-occurring conditions. Completing these questionnaires promptly is important to ensure a comprehensive understanding of your child's development. If these questionnaires are not completed, it may result in a delay in the assessment process.

For children aged eight and above, we may request them to complete a questionnaire themselves. Additionally, we may ask your child's teacher or school SENCo to complete additional questionnaires.

Additional Supporting Information

Providing relevant documents such as school reports, speech and language assessments, or medical reports can assist clinicians in better understanding your child's developmental history and current behaviors. These documents can be uploaded to the online portal after the assessment is booked.

Reliable Diagnostic Measures

Our autism assessments employ the most trusted and well-validated diagnostic measures available: the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R) and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition (ADOS-2). These diagnostic tools are widely recognized by leading clinicians in the field.

Assessment Team

Your child's assessment will be conducted by a clinical team with extensive experience in assessing and diagnosing autism. The team members will be highly trained in the relevant diagnostic tools and will provide support, updates, and ensure your comfort throughout the assessment process.

The Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R)

The ADI-R is one of the most widely used diagnostic tools for determining whether a child has autism. It is considered reliable and well-validated, alongside the ADOS-2, in evaluating children suspected of being on the autism spectrum. The interview, conducted by a senior clinician trained in ADI-R, involves extensive questioning about your child's behavior, language and communication skills, social interactions, and special interests. It aims to build a comprehensive understanding of your child's development from an early age.

Preparing for the ADI-R

Before the appointment, we encourage you to reflect on your child's behaviors and challenges throughout their life. Consider their behavior compared to other children, their interests, how they interacted with others, developmental milestones, and any difficulties or sensitivities they may have. This reflection will help provide valuable insights during the ADI-R interview.

The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule Second Edition (ADOS-2)

The ADOS-2 is a standardized observational assessment of communication, social interaction, and play or imaginative use of materials. Unlike other diagnostic tools, it focuses on your child's current behavior and skills rather than developmental information. The ADOS-2 can be used for individuals of all ages and developmental levels. It assesses various aspects of social communication, interaction, and play skills, such as eye contact, gestures, body language, repetitive behaviors, and imagination.

Overview of the ADOS-2

Duration: Up to 90 minutes

Conducted between the child and a specialist clinician

Involves observing the child's behavior and social responses in different scenarios, tasks, and conversations

Utilizes different modules based on the child's age and language ability

During the ADOS-2 appointment, it is natural for your child to feel nervous. While the assessment is conducted between your child and the clinician, please ensure you are nearby to provide support if needed. Before the appointment, reassure your child that there are no right or wrong answers, and they can take their time during the process.

Online Appointment Tips and Technical Requirements

If the appointment is conducted online, it is important to prepare your equipment accordingly. We recommend using a PC, laptop, or large tablet with a camera and microphone. Smaller screens like smartphones may not be suitable as the clinician needs a clear view of your child's body language and behaviors. A reliable internet connection is essential for clear communication during the interview, so please find a suitable environment for the online appointment.

Your Child's Diagnostic Report

Once the assessment is complete, you will be notified when your child's diagnostic report is available in the online portal. The report will detail the outcome of the assessment and provide personalized recommendations tailored to your child's specific needs. Sharing a copy of the report with your child's school and other professionals involved in their care can help ensure appropriate support and provisions are put in place.

What to Do Next?

If you would like to learn more or inquire about available appointments, please call us at 0333 3390115. Our experienced team is dedicated to helping individuals access the care they need and can provide expert advice on whether this assessment is the right choice for your child. Rest assured, all our treatments and services prioritize the highest quality patient care. Our clinicians are accredited or members of professional governing bodies, and all therapies are evidence-based, following guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Contact us with confidence today.

To learn more about the different services we offer for children, please click on the links below: 

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry:

Child and Adolescent Psychology:

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy:

Autism in children and adolescents:

Autism assessments for children and young people:

ADHD in Children and Adolescents:

Behavioral issues in Children and Adolescents:

Self harm in Children and Adolescents:

Depression in Children and Adolescents:

Information for Parents:

Information for Schools:

Information for Healthcare Professionals:

Please contact our team for a free consultation. 

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