• Autism Help UK

What happens in an autism assessment?

Updated: Jun 4

You or your child have been offered an assessment for autism. Now your left wondering and worrying what they even do during an autism assessment? Here we will go through what you can expect during an autism assessment.


Referral

Whilst some places may allow self referrals for an autism assessment, most places will need you to be referred. Some people who might refer you or your child to be assessed include:

  • A GP

  • Doctor

  • Nurse/Staff at school


Pre-Assessment Help

If you believe you or your child is autistic, you can start to take some pre-assessment steps to help you. According to NHS (2021), You can:

  • talk with staff, special educational needs (SENCO) staff, or the school nurse

  • join an autism support group

  • if you are a working adult, have a chat with someone in the human resource department

  • if you are at college or university, talk with your advisor or student support rep.

  • talk with your local council for a needs assessment to see what support they can recommend


Assessment

If you are referred for an assessment, the assessment usually takes place within 3 months (according to NICE, 2021). This autism assessment will either be with 1 person (such as a psychiatrist) or with a team of professionals.


The assessment involves talking with the professional/s. This may vary if you are a parent and your child is being assessed or if you are an adult being assessed. The professional/s will want to understand you/your child's behaviour and different parts of life to get a full understanding.


For Children:

  • you will be asked questions about your child's development- such as when they began speaking, walking, certain milestones.

  • ask you questions about your child's behaviour- they may ask about your child's strengths and challenges. e.g. does your child struggle to communicate?

  • they may want to see how your child interact with you and behave during play.

  • the professionals may read any reports sent to them by your referral (e.g. GP or SENCO).


For Adults:

  • you may need to fill in a questionnaire about yourself and any problems you have.

  • ask you questions about your behaviour- they may ask about your strengths and challenges. e.g. does you struggle to communicate?

  • the professional/s may want to speak to your childhood friend or a sibling to see how you behaved as a child.

  • read any reports from the GP about other health problems you may have

Note: They may also ask about any worries you might have, so before you go to the assessment have a list of some questions you might want to ask or any areas you are worried about.


After your assessment, the professionals may decide they need more information before they can properly diagnose you. This could include having another assessment or they may want to observe your child during school.

What WONT happen:

  • You won't take a physical examination- e.g. getting a blood sample.


Results

Either on the day of the assessment or at a later date (usually by phone or by post), the professional will let you know if they think you/your child is autistic or not. They will let you know why and what this means going forward, including plans and support you can receive. You will also be handed a report that which will cover:

  • whether you are autistic or not

  • areas you/your child may find challenging- e.g. noise sensitivity or communication

  • you/your child's strengths

Note: The diagnostician will be there to answer any of your questions about the report. This includes any medical terms used and any advice they may have




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