Our assessment pathway is borne from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance for ‘Autism Diagnosis in Children and Young People’. NICE is an organisation that sets standards for healthcare professionals.
There are three phases to the ASD Assessment Pathway here at Private GP. This includes a triage service, a holistic ASD assessment and post-assessment support. Each is detailed below. Please call Private GP to enquire.
When you make an enquiry for an autism, aspergers or ASD assessment, your child will be invited to a 30-minute appointment with one of our GPs.
You will also be sent a ‘screening-pack’ containing various questionnaires for you, the parent, to complete. Some of these directly relate to ASD symptomatology, and others are designed to gather information about other conditions that can be present alongside possible ASD. These include questionnaires relating to Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), as well as any sensory sensitivities and mental health difficulties that your child may have.
The questionnaires will be reviewed by a clinical psychologist.
If the Neurodiversity Team feels that an ASD assessment is the best course of action for your child, we will book them into the assessment pathway.
If the Neurodiversity Team does not feel that an ASD assessment is the best way to support your child, we will write to you with some brief recommendations to take to your GP. You may also choose to book an appointment with one of our clinical psychologists. They will discuss with you, in detail the results of the screening questionnaires you completed and will offer advice and signposting towards the most appropriate treatment for your child.
ASD assessments are very thorough. This means that you and your child will meet with different professionals within the Neurodiversity Team for various appointments. Information will also be gathered from your child’s teachers and through direct observation of your child.
Typically, our assessments run over a three-month period, although this may be extended if the team feel that further assessment is needed. An outline of our ASD assessment pathway is described below.
Appointment for parents
As part of the assessment, it is really important that the Neurodiversity Team have a detailed picture relating to your child’s development, as well as an understanding of your current concerns. To establish this, you will meet with a clinical psychologist who will ask you questions about your child.
Appointment(s) for your child
Your child will take part in an autism-specific assessment, which will be facilitated by two professionals of the Neurodiversity Team. This is called the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). It includes age-appropriate play with your child, as well as conversations designed to give the team an understanding of how they make sense of the world. Questionnaires may also be given to your child where appropriate.
The Neurodiversity Team will also gather information from your child’s school. This will involve asking teachers to complete standardised questionnaires and also having a discussion with them about your child. It may also include an observation of your child in a school setting.
Your child may also wish to complete a cognitive assessment with a clinical psychologist. This will identify some of your child’s strengths and areas of need. It can also help the team to generate some recommendations relating to possible support and adaptations that can facilitate your child to meet their potential in the school environment. This aspect of the service is charged at an additional fee.
After the assessment is complete, the Neurodiversity Team will meet to discuss their observations and the findings from the various assessments. They will also draft a thorough report. You will be then invited to a feedback session with the clinical psychologist who has been involved in your child’s assessment. During the appointment, the outcome of your child’s assessment and the clinical recommendations of the team will be shared with you. You will also have the opportunity to review the report.
Included within the assessment fee, you will also be invited to meet the Neurodiversity Team’s ‘Specialist Children and Young People’s Counsellor and Teacher’. You may wish to use this session in a variety of ways, including to process the diagnosis together, to start to make initial plans to support your child therapeutically and educationally, or to discuss how to share this diagnosis with them.
Possible outcomes of the assessment
It is important to understand that there could be several possible outcomes of your child’s assessment.
It may be that the Neurodiversity Team can be confident that your child has ASD and a diagnosis will be given. Alternatively, they may feel that your child does not meet the diagnostic criteria for ASD and a diagnosis will not be given.
Sometimes conditions including attachment disorder, ADHD and ASD can have overlapping features and may present similarly in terms of the child’s behaviour. Therefore, it may not be possible to offer a diagnosis of ASD without further assessment. In these instances, further assessment for a differential or co-morbid diagnosis will be recommended.
Based on the recommendations laid out in your child’s assessment report, post-assessment support will be made available by specialists within their field via Private GP for an additional fee. These services are available to all young people and their families, even if the Neurodiversity Team did not give a diagnosis of ASD.
Post-assessment support options include appointments for you and your child with our GP who has expertise in functional medicine, our autism-trained counsellor, clinical psychologists, speech and language therapists, or occupational therapists.