Autism Spectrum Conditions – Assessment Options

Option 1: No-obligation initial consultation

If you are not sure what you are looking for, or even whether an ASC assessment is indicated, the process begins with an initial meeting with parents and / or the individual with suspected ASC difficulties. This initial interview takes between 1-2 hours, and costs £100-£200. Simon is committed to ensuring that families do not pay for services that they do not need, or that they could access freely from the NHS, and he will always advise on these options.

Option 2: Basic Assessment

Our basic assessment option includes:

  • General Developmental Assessment with parents
  • Direct observation / interview with the child, young person or adult (ADOS)
  • Education / Occupational interview where appropriate
  • Full report including recommendations for education, social care and employment

Please see below for description of these assessment components. 

Option 3: Medium-Level Assessment

Our ‘medium’ assessment option includes:

  • General Developmental Assessment with parents
  • Interview with parents using the DISCO or 3Di assessment tool
  • Direct observation / interview with the child, young person or adult (ADOS)
  • Education / Occupational interview where appropriate
  • Full report including recommendations for education, social care and employment

Please see below for description of these assessment components. 

The ‘Gold Standard’

Our ‘Gold Standard’ assessment approach includes the following components.

  • General Developmental Assessment with parents
  • Interview with parents using the DISCO or 3Di assessment tool
  • Direct observation / interview with the child, young person or adult (ADOS)
  • Full cognitive assessment
  • Education / Occupational interview where appropriate
  • Speech and Language Therapy Assessment
  • Full report including recommendations for education, social care and employment

Please see below for description of these assessment components. 

Description of Assessment Components

ADOS – The ADOS is a semi-structured assessment that can be used to evaluate anyone suspected of having autism; from toddlers to adults; from children with no speech to adults who are verbally fluent. Cut-off scores are provided for the diagnosis of Pervasive Development Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders and atypical autism as well as the traditional narrower conceptualisation of autism.

The ADOS consists of four modules each requiring 35 to 40 minutes to administer. The individual being evaluated is given just one module depending on his or her expressive language level and chronological age. Module 1 is used with children who do not consistently use phrase speech. Module 2 is used with those who use phrase speech but are not verbally fluent. Module 3 is used with fluent children and Module 4 is used with fluent adults. The one group that ADOS does not address is non-verbal adolescents and adults.

Cognitive Assessment – A cognitive assessment typically consists of a series of tasks designed to establish a person’s level of ability in certain key areas including working memory, speed of mental processing, visuo-spatial skills and the understanding and use of language. These assessments are ‘standardised’ – they have been developed through extensive research and allow the examiner to compare a person’s scores against the average that would be expected for their age group.

These assessments are used to help establish whether underlying difficulties in one or more key area of cognitive functioning could be influencing a person’s difficulties in everyday life. They can also be used to identify educational difficulties, and subsequently allow professionals to make recommendations to schools and other educational establishments regarding the needs and learning style of an individual.

In terms of ASD, cognitive assessments can identify patterns that are typically seen in people with these difficulties. They can also identify cognitive issues that may lead to patterns of functioning similar to ASD.
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Developmental, Dimensional and Diagnostic Interview (3Di) – Like the DISCO outlined below, the 3Di is a structured developmental assessment that asks respondents a range of questions about a person’s childhood development and current functioning. Like the DISCO it looks not only at Autism Spectrum Conditions, but also considers whether a range of related issues (e.g. ADHD, language difficulties) might overlap with ASC or even provide a better overall explanation for a person’s difficulties. This means that individuals and their relatives are not left without an answer, even if it is not the one that they had originally anticipated.

Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO)– In order to recognise and identify the impairments of social interaction, social communication and social imagination together with the associated repetitive behaviours, and all the other features that can be found in autistic disorder, information must be collected in a systematic way. This is achieved by using the DISCO, a detailed, semi-structured interview to be used with an informant who has known the person concerned well, preferably from infancy.

Education / Occupational Assessment– ASD is a pervasive disorder – a person’s difficulties would be evident across all settings, although they may vary a little in intensity and the extent to which they impact on successful functioning. A school, college or workplace assessment can be invaluable in confirming a diagnosis, or by highlighting inconsistencies that then inform an alternative formulation of a person’s underlying difficulties.

General Developmental Assessment – A General Developmental Assessment (GDA) is a broad-based clinical interview focussing on the person’s birth history, infancy and development through childhood. Whilst it has a focus on the areas most affected by Autism Spectrum Conditions and is conducted by professionals experienced in that field, the interview is not a standardised diagnostic assessment and as such can provide slightly less robust information. That said, a good GDA can be more robust that a standardised interview interpreted by an inexperienced clinician.

Report – All assessments culminate in the production of a detailed report, outlining the information gathered and explaining the conclusions that have been drawn. Where possible, alternative explanations for a person’s difficulties will be provided where an Autistic Spectrum Disorder is not identified.
The final report will also contain recommendations for home and education environments where appropriate.