AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER
"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid" - Albert Einstein
Identifying needs... and strengths.
We view ASD as an integral part of the diversity of our world. We recognise, however, that people with ASD struggle with aspects of their lives as well as having real strengths. Assessments should not simply provide a 'yes or no' answer to the question of ASD, but a profile of the person's strengths and needs even (perhaps especially) where a diagnosis is not given. This will help them and their families to think about their future pathways.
For children and young people, a thoughtful assessment can help education professionals to understand their needs and focus on their abilities rather than just their struggles. For adults, assessment can often help answer questions around areas such as relationships, work and mental health. Our approach offers a way forward that aims to improve the wellbeing of the individual, based on an increased understanding of their strengths and difficulties gained through our multi-disciplinary assessment.
Labels can be important, but only when they are robust and serve a clear purpose. It is important to feel confident in the diagnosis, and for the evidence used to be laid out openly. A poorly formulated assessment can pose more questions than it provides answers.
APPROACH TO ASSESSMENT
Children and adults with ASD have great strengths, but they struggle with different aspects of their daily lives. A diagnosis does not change that, but it allows understanding and insight for the person themselves and also those around them.
Dr Bird, Dr Jones and our associates offer a comprehensive, flexible and cost-effective assessment for children and adults to address your specific questions. We use a range of evidence-based, internationally recognised interviews and observational assessments to ensure that the diagnostic outcome is robust and fully explained. See below for further information about this process.
Discuss your concerns without committing to a full assessment
You can request a general initial assessment, and talk through the main issues before making up your mind about where to go next. If you decide to progress to a diagnosis assessment, we will convene a multi-professional team to complete the assessment.
Women and Girls
More boys than girls (men than women) are currently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. It has become clear that women and girls could be missing a diagnosis because they don’t fit a ‘male pattern’ of autism. Our approach is to recognise this evidence and have an open and flexible approach to assessment, whist maintaining rigorous standards.
School Interview / Observation
Understanding a child or young person in context.
Autism Spectrum Disorders are pervasive - they should be evident in all settings rather than just one or two. As they are primarily defined in terms of social difficulties it is essential to understand how a person interacts with their peers. Sometimes a staff interview is sufficient, but if not we will undertake a school observation to support our assessment.
Working directly with the person.
The latest edition of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2) has become the 'gold standard' observational assessment tool for the identification of ASD. It combines interview questions and creative tasks to assess a person's social skills, emotional insight and creativity. It also allows the examiner to identify any repetitive interests or communication issues.
Parent / carer interview
Hearing the parents' perspective.
We use a standardised interview as a core element of our ASD assessments, for both children and adults where possible. Dr Bird is trained in the use of the 3Di-5, and his colleague Dr Jonathan Jones uses the DISCO. These measures ensure that the assessment is rooted in a person's development and life history rather than simply their current strengths and needs.