What are Autism Spectrum Conditions?
Characteristics of the autism spectrum are part of the rich diversity of the human mind. There have been shifts in recent years towards embracing each person’s attributes and uniqueness. Assessments help identify strengths and skills, as well as suggesting adaptations and strategies to help the person cope with stressful aspects of daily life and work towards their own goals.
More than 1 in every 100 people meet the criteria for an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). Some famous people who identify as on the Autism Spectrum include Chris Packham, Wildlife presenter; Anthony Hopkins, Actor; Guy Martin, Motorcycle racer; Susan Boyle, Singer; Daryl Hannah, Actress; Niall Aslam, Love Island contestant.
Every individual is different and will have many strengths and skills, but the term means that a person has difficulty in the following key areas:
* Spoken communication – making conversation, and understanding what other people say and mean
* Non spoken communication – body language, eye contact, facial expressions
* Understanding the complexities of social relationships
* Finding change difficult, very fixed interests, and can be extra sensitive to the senses such as sound.
The assessment process follows NICE best practice guidance in the same way as the NHS. It uses standardised assessment tools and multi-disciplinary diagnostic decision making.
The assessment process involves:
- Initial discussion about the reasons for seeking the assessment and to complete a screening to check the full assessment is appropriate.
- A social communication assessment completed with the client called the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS 2). This takes 60 – 90 minutes. This takes the form of a semi-structured conversation.
- If possible, gathering information from another source. Ideally this includes a telephone conversation with a parent or relative to gather information about the client’s early developmental milestones and social interaction using a standardised interview. If this is not possible, I can speak with somebody else such as a partner, friend, colleague or therapist, or can review relevant paperwork such as school reports or medical letters.
- You can also choose to include a a cognitive assessment to assess verbal reasoning, visual reasoning, processing speed and memory skills which helps identify the best way to tailor support especially for the workplace or education.
- Best practice guidelines suggest that assessments for possible autism spectrum conditions are multi-disciplinary i.e. involve professionals from more than one training background. Therefore I consult with an experienced Speech and Language Therapist who is trained in using the ADOS 2. With permission she watches a video of the ADOS 2 to give specialist feedback on the person’s use of language and communication.
- Written report and feedback session, usually 2 weeks after the final assessment appointment
Autism Spectrum assessments are £800. If a cognitive assessment is also included, the rates are £950. The initial one hour consultation session is £110, which is deducted from the total price if the full assessment goes ahead.
For more information or to discuss options for support, please contact me.
There is also helpful information on the National Autistic Society website: www.autism.org.uk