Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Diagnosis can be helpful in understanding why social communication can be challenging and why learning may be difficult and also identify why an individual may feel isolated or anxious. Importantly, it can also identify individual strengths with a view to enhancement. A full assessment and diagnosis can be vital in providing an understanding of a person with Autistic Spectrum Disorder so as to identify ways to intervene, in order to improve life at home, school, and work, and to reduce the distress associated with ASD.
At Child and Family Psychology Clinic we are very experienced in the diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder at any age, and are able to help parents who are concerned about their children, as well as teenagers and adults who want to understand themselves better and who have questioned whether they might be on the autistic spectrum.
Our assessments are conducted by our multidisciplinary ASD team and comply with NICE guidelines (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence). All professionals involved in such assessments have extensive experience in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders and are able to offer advice and support, regardless of the outcome of the assessment. We use a range of specialist and standardised clinical tools including the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (‘ADOS’) and the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (‘DISCO’ – a comprehensive clinical interview for parents). We also use the Wechsler range of intelligence scales to assess strengths and weaknesses in cognitive functioning. We have a dedicated Speech and Language Therapist who works with us as an associate, who will assess language skills to ascertain social communication needs, including receptive and expressive skills.
Our diagnostic assessments can be shared with other agencies in order to access Local Authority services. We also have collaborative links with local NHS Trusts.
ASD assessments need to take place within at least two environments. Our team are able to offer appointments for assessments at our consulting rooms in Norwich and we also offer home and school visits (with parental consent, it can be arranged to contact the school in order to gather and share information). We tailor each assessment to the needs of the individual. Typically we spend approximately two hours with parents (where appropriate) and about two hours with the individual to be assessed, depending on their age, ability level and capacity to manage the process.
It may become clear during or after the assessment that some behaviours exhibited are signifiers of developmental issues other than autism. If this is found to be so, the team at the clinic can also offer psychological assessments in order to provide a greater understanding of the situation and of underlying issues, and are able to offer recommendations for ongoing help and assistance.
Following the assessment and clinical report, our team will offer to share knowledge of the options available, and we are able to offer follow-up services and give advice on eligible NHS and Norfolk County Council services that are available to adults and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Sally Debbage Speech and Language Therapist BA(Hons), Postgraduate Dip, MRCSLT, HCPC