The aim of the diagnostic autism assessment is to determine whether a child meets the criteria for autism and to provide information about their presentation and support needs. A diagnosis (and the assessment process) can help to understand your child’s particular brain style and their behaviours in order to develop plans to better support them and you.
The diagnostic process includes assessment in accordance with the DSMV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th edition) criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorders – specifically considering social and communication skills, and restricted and repetitive interests and stereotyped patterns of behaviour.
Why seek a diagnostic assessment?
Children who are diagnosed with autism can access additional support services and early intervention services in order to improve their skills, understanding and self advocacy as well as helping the systems around them (their family, school and community) in adapting and supporting their needs. A diagnosis may also mean that your child is eligible for funding support through their school, Centrelink or the NDIS.
Who conducts the assessment:
At Bellarine Psychology assessments are conducted by either an educational and developmental psychologist or a clinical psychologist with specialised training and experience in autism.
How do I get an assessment:
A paediatrician’s referral is required (or at least in process) if your child is under the age of 13. If your child doesn’t yet have a paediatrician please speak to your GP to get a referral asap.
If your child is over the age of 13 you can contact us directly to request an appointment, or to arrange a time to speak with one of our psychologists further to check if an assessment will be useful for you and your child.
Making an appointment:
Contact us to request an appointment for assessment. Our reception team will ask some questions to make sure that you have the appropriate referrals and to direct you to the appropriate psychologist to meet your needs. You will then be advised of an approximate wait time for assessment and placed on our waiting list for assessment. One of our psychologists will be in contact with you to further discuss the assessment process.
Children aged under 13 who have been referred for an autism assessment by a paediatrician or child psychiatrist can claim a rebate from Medicare of $88.25 over four sessions with a psychologist or other allied health professional (eg. Speech pathologist or occupational therapist).
Other sessions may be claimable on Private Health Insurance if you have appropriate coverage using item number 100
If your child is 13 years of age or over, Medicare will not pay any rebate and so the full fee for the assessment applies (claimable by Private Health Insurance if appropriate coverage is in place)
If your child has NDIS funding please speak with your plan manager/LAC about whether or not your child may be able to use their NDIS funding. You can use NDIS funds for the assessment as long as you have sufficient funds remaining and the need for an assessment aligns with your child’s goals.
What happens now that I have an appointment?
Prior to the assessment you will be sent some online questionnaires which include information about the child’s developmental history and behaviour. At this time you are asked to forward any previous assessment reports or information you have to the Psychologist.
Our assessments are tailored to the needs of the child. Your psychologist will discuss which assessments are suitable for your child during session One.
The following outline is a common example of how the assessment will be structured:
- Session One:
- One hour
- Initial intake session involves an interview with one or both parents. This session is generally without the child present so that an open and honest discussion can be held regarding any concerns about the child’s behaviour and presentation, including a detailed developmental history.
- Session Two:
- Two hours
- A parent interview is completed using standardised guided interviews (ADI-R/CARS2 and/or MIGDAS2). This session covers detailed information regarding your child’s early development including regarding their communication, play, physical development and social development, as well as any behavioural concerns such as repetitive behaviours, sensory integration and emotion regulation.
- Session Three:
- One – Two hours
- An interview and observation with the your child using standardised play and sensory based activities (ADOS2/MIGDAS2) as well as informal play and observation.
- Session Four:
- One-two hours
- Cognitive assessment with your child using standardised measures of intelligence (depending on your child’s age either the WPPSI-III, WISCV or WAISIV).
- Additional Information gathering:
- In some cases the psychologist will visit the child’s social setting (day care/kinder/school) to observe their behaviour at school. They will at least speak with your child’s caregivers/teachers by phone and also possibly ask them to complete questionnaires about your child’s behaviour. If your child is involved with any therapists, the Psychologist will attempt to speak with them also. The Psychologist will review all of the information, and complete a comprehensive report with recommendations.
- Feedback session:
- The psychologist will meet with you to discuss the outcome of the assessment and outline recommendations for support for your child, such as seeking additional support through therapists and funding bodies. You will receive a comprehensive diagnostic report which will be forward to yourself and your paediatrician.
The assessment tools we use:
The psychologist will use a range of tools in completing the assessment which may include all or a combination of the following, in addition to their clinical judgement, observations and interviews:
- ADOS-2 – Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale (2nd Edition) is a standardised play based observation tool that is conducted by the psychologist with your child. The ADOS-2 uses play and conversation to observe your child’s social interaction skills and behaviours.
- ADI-R – Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised is a standardised parent interview that is conducted by the psychologist with one or both parents to gain a detailed understanding of your child’s developmental history and current behaviour
- MIGDAS-2 – the Monteiro Interview Guide for Diagnosing Autism Spectrum – 2nd edition is a series of guided interviews for children, adolescents, their parents/carers and teachers that utilises a sensory based approach to assessment. This tool is often used in place of the ADOS-2 and ADI-R for older children/adolescents or alongside the ADOS-2 and ADI-R
- SRS-2 – the Social Responsiveness Scale, 2nd edition are standardised parent, teacher and self-report questionnaires which compare your child’s behaviour with that of other children the same age specifically related to behaviours consistent with autism
- BASC3 – the Behaviour Assessment System for Children, 3rd edition is a series of parent, teacher and self-report questionnaires that provide detailed information about a child’s challenging and adaptive behaviours.
- Vineland3 – The Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales, 3rd edition are teacher and parent report questionnaires which detail a child’s adaptive behaviours and are often used to support funding applications.
- Weschler intelligence tests (WPPSIIV, WISCV, WAISIV) provide a measure of your child’s cognitive skills. Understanding your child’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses can provide further important information in the assessment, particularly if your child is suspected of having an intellectual disability, learning disability or giftedness.
Please feel free to contact us to find out more about how we conduct Autism Assessments at Bellarine Peninsula Psychology.