Help for Psychology

Assessment and Diagnosis

Help for Psychology offers an independent assessment and diagnosis service for children and adults who are suspected of having an Autism Spectrum Disorder, including Aspergers and Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA).

For both children and adults we follow the NICE (National Institute of Clinical and Care Excellence) guidelines for the assessment and diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders. This means that we always assess individuals by using at least two professionals from different disciplines.  

Our assessment process generally adopts a three step process:

1) Free initial ASD/PDA screen

2) Initial one-hour consultation either face to face, or via the

telephone or Skype. (Face to face consultations are carried out without the child being present. This allows the parent(s) to speak openly.)

3) Formal assessment

The one-hour consultation is an option, as some parents prefer to book their children in for an assessment following the initial screen. However, we have introduced the one-hour consultation just to ensure a formal assessment is the most appropriate route to take. If we feel after the free screen, and initial consultation, that a diagnosis of ASD/PDA is very unlikely, then we would advise accordingly. If after the free screen and initial consultation we feel an assessment is appropriate, then if the parent books a formal assessment with us, we reduce the normal cost of the assessment by the cost of the initial consultation.

The NICE guidelines also suggest that children should be assessed in more than one context. We therefore send out a comprehensive and confidential school questionnaire, and request feedback from teachers for all children being assessed.  

Our assessment process varies from child to child and we are happy to use reports which have been produced by other HCPC registered professionals to avoid repetition.

In general an assessment of a child between the age of 3 - 6 will broadly consist of the following:

An assessment of a child between 6 – 12 will broadly consist of the following:

An assessment of a young person between 12 – 19 will broadly consist of the following:

Diagnostic Reports

In addition to detailing how we came to our diagnostic opinion, our reports also contain a full explanation of the child’s individual profile of strengths and difficulties.  This includes speech and language ability, including the child’s social use of language.  We also offer a full sensory screen.  This then allows us to produce a comprehensive picture of your child and any difficulties this might lead to. All our reports come with detailed recommendations for school and home in terms of supporting and managing any areas of concern. (Should any parent find our reports are not accepted locally, then we are happy to discuss the matter with the local NHS team, or local authority, on their behalf.)

Assessment options:

We offer other optional extras to our assessment service, as follows:

Post-Diagnostic Support

We have developed a range of post-diagnostic support options which are as follows:

We are also currently exploring the possibility of starting ‘social groups’ where more able children on the Autistic Spectrum can get to know each other and meet regularly.

Adult Assessments

The NICE Guidelines for the Assessment of Autism in Adults also recommend assessment by more than one professional.  Some adults may only wish to undertake an assessment to get a ‘diagnostic opinion’. This involves a shorter assessment and takes place with a Clinical Psychologist.  For those who wish to undertake a full assessment the process is as follows:-

Following all assessments we produce a very comprehensive report (including recommendations) which can be shared as required.  As we follow the NICE guidelines, our independent assessments should be accepted by both the local NHS teams and the Local Authority.

Adult assessment options:

Cognitive Assessment

A cognitive assessment is not an essential part of an autism assessment but it can be very useful.  Most children (and young adults) have reasonably similar abilities in the different areas of the assessment (e.g. verbal and non-verbal reasoning, working memory and processing speed).  Many children on the autistic spectrum will have an uneven or ‘spiky’ profile of strengths and difficulties.  Some may be extremely able verbally but struggle in many other areas.  They may have difficulties retaining and manipulating information or copying information off the board.

 difficulties retaining and manipulating information or copying information off the board.  

Others may have significant language difficulties but process non-verbal information much more efficiently.  Results of a cognitive assessment can be shared with school and used as supporting evidence to secure an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan).

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