ABOUT OUR ASSESSMENTS
We offer comprehensive, flexible and cost-effective assessments for children and adults that 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.
Our diagnostic assessments currently focus on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), although we recognise that these are just one form of neurodiversity. We can give an indication about other issues, such as difficulties with attention and concentration, but this would not constitute a formal diagnosis that would allow you to access medication, or even additional support within education or employment. If you are seeking a diagnosis of ADHD or another specific form of neurodiversity, we recommend approaching a separate service. We would be more than happy to assess for ASD alongside services addressing other issues if that is the best way forward.
A tiered approach
If you are unsure whether to proceed with a full diagnostic assessment you can request an initial discussion, supported by some screening questionnaires, to clarify the best way forward. If you decide to progress to a diagnostic assessment, we will then convene a multi-professional team to complete the work.
You can also commission just one aspect of the assessment. This can be useful for those who are seeking insight for themselves, but are less motivated by obtaining a diagnosis.
Clarity, balance and independence
We work with a strong focus on balance and engagement. We believe that persons with ASC profiles are differently abled, and identifying strengths as well as areas of difficulty is a key part of our approach.
We operate from an ethical, evidence-based position. Our assessments must be independent of vested interest, aside from the best interests of the person under assessment. In our experience it is essential to demonstrate the foundations of any diagnosis that we make, particularly if the person or family in question hopes to take the report to statutory services that may have preconceptions about the validity of independent assessments.
Sometimes, our conclusions differ from the views of those who have commissioned the work. This typically happens when evidence emerges from the ADOS-2 and / or the school interview does not support the picture emerging from the parental assessment. We try to approach these situations with sensitivity, but with a consistent focus on the evidence that we have been able to gather.
Women and Girls
Historically, more boys than girls (men than women) have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Condition. More recently it has become clear that women and girls could be overlooked for a diagnosis because they don’t fit into 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. In the past two years since the COVID-19 lockdown, well over half of our assessments have been of females.
Pre-School Children and children with learning disabilities
Assessing pre-school children is a complex process. We believe that this work is best undertaken by a traditional multidisciplinary team, hosted within the NHS or a similar organisation. The assessing team must have strong links with nurseries and other relevant settings, and have the capacity to map a child's general developmental profile due to the wide band of 'normal' presentations in infancy. The same is true for children who have, or are suspected of having, significant additional developmental needs such as global learning difficulties or a language impairment. We cannot currently offer this type of intensive input, so our assessments focus on school-aged children with otherwise typical learning and language profiles.
Understanding the bigger picture.
We use standardised interviews as the 'backbone' of our ASD assessments, for both children and adults. Jonathan uses the DISCO for these assessments, Lauren is trained in the ADi-r, and Simon uses the 3Di. These are internationally recognised, 'gold standard' measures that ensure that the assessment is rooted in a person's development and life history, rather than simply their current strengths and needs.
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 of children and young people.
Working directly with the person.
The latest edition of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2) is 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. Lauren, Simon and Jonathan have all been trained to use the ADOS-2.