Autism Assessment Process Pt3

Our feedback appointment was a few weeks ago but we still haven't received our final report. The good news is we got an autism diagnosis!!

At the feedback appointment they basically go through the draft report with you and answer any questions. You are able to read through the draft report at home & contact them with any questions or corrections. The report summarises any observations & assessments that were done along with the parent/carer interview. At the back there is the diagnostic criteria & the parts which apply to our child are highlighted. There is a conclusion which summarises the whole thing and states that our child has ASD.

After this there is an action plan with recommendations. Luckily for us most of the recommendations are already in place & in the My Support Plan in school. There are also recommended referrals such as SALT & Occupational Therapy. 

We only have our draft report but I've heard some have to wait months for the final report. When it is posted (in our area) a copy is also sent to the child's school and GP. I've also been told that a resource pack is sent out with it although I suspect that by the time you've had your assessment (we waited years) the resources are almost useless!

Update: We received our report around a month later. There was no information pack with it.


Autism Assessment Process Pt2

We've had the parental interview & ADOS, SALT have been contacted & school observation is being done. As mentioned in part 1 there are 3 professionals on the multi disciplinary team (MDT). Our MDT consists of a specialist doctor, speech & language therapist and a clinical psychologist. One does the parent/carer questions, the other 2 do the ADOS.

The parent/carer interview & ADOS are undertaken at the same time in our area, although i'm sure they'd make exceptions. The SALT appointment is only made if they feel it is necessary. In our case our child has been attending speech therapy since the age of 3 (he's now 6) so they have contacted them for information. They have also sent a questionnaire to school which sounds quite similar to the one they used for my questions. They are going into school for a few hours this week to observe.

A family member came to the appointment with us. They went into the assessment with my child while i was answering the questions. Two members of the MDT were present, the speech therapist and clinical psychologist. They were in the room next door to me (he was shown this) and sounded like he was having fun! 
They asked questions about school, what food he likes, what he likes doing etc. I think they were assessing his general interaction along with his speech. They played with bubbles, offered snacks (which he obviously refused!) and played a few games. They were in there for an hour in total.

Parent/Carer Interview
The speciality doctor undertook my interview. It's a questionnaire and the answers are entered onto a computer. Some of the questions go back to birth and if you have your child's red book i would definitely take it along.

The more specific questions i can remember were:
  • First word, whether he babbled, if he would point to things he wanted, what his speech has been like growing up.
  • The age he first sat, crawled, stood, walked, if he climbed, ran around and jumped etc. Whether he was at all clumsy. I think this all relates to their gross motor skills.
  • Fine motor skills like holding food, pencils, picking things up.
  • Whether he was a healthy child in general.
  • Any sensory issues. He does have issues around noises, food and clothing.
  • Food. He eats very little, it is all a similar colour and there's not much variety. We think it's sensory.
  • Academic ability. This question probably only applies if your child is of school age.
  • Special interests and how much detail they go into, if they've become an obsession.
  • Whether any family members (going as far as cousins, great grandparents etc) have conditions including ASD, ADHD, depression, anxiety, mental health issues. They also asked if any had been school refusers or dropped out of education at an early age, struggled with employment & societal norms in general.
They asked questions about how he interacts with others, whether he has friends, how he plays, what his imagination is like and how he is at school. You are able to be very descriptive and discuss these things with them.

The doctor informed me that each professional writes a report on the part they undertook based on their speciality (SALT concentrate on his speech and interaction for example) and then combine them into one huge report. The person who visits school will also report on that and add it in.
I'm hoping the report we get is the full version although a condensed version may be given.

School Observation
The SENCO has informed me that they are visiting school for a few hours. They have sent a list of questions in advance which are similar to the more general questions they've asked me. Things like his academic ability, his social interaction, speech and friendships. Hopefully they are also going to speak to the teaching staff.

Our feedback appointment has come through for the end of the month. From what others are saying i'm undecided on the process in our area. A new provider took over before Christmas and things seem to be moving a lot quicker, but i'm uncertain as to how thorough they are. I'm not optimistic that he'll get a diagnosis but we can only go on their opinion.


Autism Assessment Process Pt1

After waiting 2 years we've been booked in for an autism assessment. Unsure of what to expect I googled but it's difficult to find the specifics as it differs by area. After asking around it seems most are unsure of what to expect. With that in mind I thought it could be useful to put what little info we have out there.

The info here is from our provider. This is just our experience of this. Although the basics are the same, nationwide the process varies by area & provider. It will also be different for adults. Our provider has sent us an information letter which I have used for the following info. Our assessment begins in a couple of weeks so I'll inform as we go.

Assessment Format
Children are assessed for social communication difficulties to determine whether they meet the criteria for ASD. A comprehensive assessment is undertaken with a multi disciplinary team (MDT) exploring strengths and difficulties in various settings. The process takes 4-6 weeks, the child attends 1 clinic appointment, the parent/carer attends 2. This is standard procedure but additional assessments will be undertaken if required.

Triad of Impairments

1. Parent/Carer Interview
The clinician asks questions about the child and will record the answers. The questions are about the child's social communication skills & the development of these skills. This usually lasts 60 minutes.
I have found that this is a computer based interview (as in the questions are in a standard computer programme) and that they go right back to birth. I've dug out the red book and DLA form for reference!

2. Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule
The ADOS is a play based assessment that provides opportunities to observe any difficulties associated with autism. Activities are introduced by the examiner (one of the MDT) with a second observer present (also MDT) and once completed are rated for features in the triad of impairments associated with autism.
Activities for younger children include play, response to name, anticipation of routine & looking at books. Older children may tell a story, make believe, talk about events and discuss certain topics. This is usually completed with the child only but we know that this isn't always possible. This usually takes 45-60 minutes and will take place at the same time as the parent/carer interview.
I have since covered this here.

3. Speech & Language Appointment
This may involve the child completing specific language assessments in clinic or school. If the child is already under Speech & Language the assessment will not be required, but information will be received and reviewed. Observations will also be made during the ADOS. 

4. Social Observation
This is completed in an educational setting. We will be looking for strengths and difficulties in social communication skills & getting further information from teaching staff.

5. Feedback & Report
Once assessments have been completed and reviewed we offer a feedback session & report to explain our findings. This is usually with parent/carer only but a child or young person may attend if appropriate. We work with a strict criteria for diagnosing autism and a diagnosis will not always be given. We will always offer recommendations to help the child in developing strengths and supporting difficulties.
I have since covered this here.


All About Us

There's 4 of us, the "average" family whatever that is. 
I'm a stay at home parent/carer while Victor runs his own business. We have an autistic child and a neurotypical child.
We live in God's Own County & it's beautiful!