What is an Autism Assessment?
Sally Powis explains in the video below what happens during an autism diagnostic assessment:
(Please see the bottom of the page for the transcript)
Sally: Hello. My name’s Sally, and I’m the clinical lead for the Oxfordshire Adult Autism Diagnostic Service. I’m here today to explain to you the whole assessment process, so you know what to expect when you come.
So, people will come to see us first thing in the morning, when we start, and we begin by taking what’s called a developmental history. So you will be seen by one clinician, who will do this, who will ask lots of questions about your early behaviours, and the difficulties and things you might have struggled with when you were young. And it’s for this reason that we find it really helpful if people are able to bring with them someone who knew them when they were little. So usually that’s a mum or a dad – a parent – or maybe and older sibling somebody like that, who can help try and give us some information about how you were coping and what was going on for you, probably when you were 4, 5 years old. It’s also really helpful if people can bring any nursery school reports, or infant school reports, or photos, or anything from around that time, that helps us get an idea of how you were managing and what life was like for you.
So that part of the assessment will take most of the morning. If you don’t have someone who can come with you, then we do a slightly different assessment with you, yourself, asking you for a lot of questions and memories about your early years.
We then usually have a break, and people may need to bring their own lunch, or if you’re being seen in Didcot then we’re very close to the shops, and you can maybe go for a walk and buy some lunch.
After the break, we then have the second part of the assessment, and this is done with you, yourself, and it’s done by a second clinician, so you’ll see somebody different after lunch. And they will ask you various questions about friendships, about relationships, about your feelings, about work or studying, and might do a few tasks with you, like looking through a book together, or telling a story with various little items. That’s a much shorter part of the assessment.
At the end of that, usually that’s finished by mid-afternoon, you’ll be done here, you’ll be free to go. The two clinicians will then get together, and they will confer about all the information that they’ve pulled together throughout the day, and they will come to a decision about whether they think you meet the criteria for autism or not. The clinicians then go away and write up your report, and you’ll be asked before you leave whether you would like to see this report before you come back for your feedback session. Your feedback session will take place with the clinician you saw in the morning usually, the lead clinician for that assessment, and that’s usually 1-2 weeks after you’ve been to visit us and had the full assessment. So you can elect to see that report by email, or to receive it by post, or you might decide that you want to wait until you come for the feedback session to receive it.
At the feedback session you’ll have the chance to ask any questions and for the clinician to explain to you how they came to the conclusion, and to discuss with you your concerns, your thoughts, and any other issues you may have. You will also be asked whether you’re happy for your report to be sent to your GP – your final report.
Throughout the assessment if you are finding it particularly overwhelming or you’re getting anxious then you can always stop, you can ask to stop at any time, and we have quiet areas that you can go and sit in if you wish to take a break, that’s absolutely fine. We will try our best to make the whole process as relaxed and as un-stressful as possible for you.
So that’s about it for the whole explanation, and should you have any concerns or questions you can always ring through to our office and ask in advance so we can try and put your mind at rest. And I look forward to seeing you in your assessment!