All of our assessments are compliant with guidance provided by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). They state that assessments should be undertaken by multiple professionals and use established, standardised tools. Typically, our assessments are completed by two professionals. Dr Simon Bird undertakes direct work with the child / young person / adult themselves, using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2). He also links with schools and colleges. Dr Jonathan Jones undertakes the detailed parental assessment using the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO). Both of these measures are seen as ‘gold standard’ in the ASD community, and are used and recognised by services across the UK.
We are not currently accepting new enquiries. Under normal circumstances, once we have met you and / or your relative, we would look to complete the assessment within a six weeks and report two-three weeks later. This means that you should have the completed report within an overall timespan of around nine weeks from initial meeting. Sometimes this is extended: typically, this happens if there is a need for additional work (see below) or if the assessment period overlaps with School holidays. We would always keep you informed of any delays.
Although assessments vary a little, the average cost for a three-part assessment (DISCO; ADOS-2; liaison with school) is £2,000. We request half of this at the start of the process and the remainder on completion. Costs can increase if we have to undertake any additional assessments around particular issues that complicate the diagnostic process. For example, if a young person has suspected learning difficulties, or if they have had a complex personal history (e.g. attachment issues, adoption, trauma, complex family dynamics etc), we would have to undertake additional interviews to try and tease these issues out from any underlying Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Where a child or young person has been assessed, parents have increasingly requested an additional age-appropriate summary letter alongside the main report. They may also wish to arrange one or more follow up sessions to discuss the diagnosis. These additional tasks would increase the overall cost.
Very occasionally, we have to ask another professional to get involved. This is almost always when there are questions around a young person’s speech and language development. Again, we will keep you informed at every stage if we feel that additional work is necessary and will always explain our reasoning for it.
We have been offering DISCO appointments via video during the pandemic and will continue to do so for those who would prefer this option. However, the ADOS-2 cannot be undertaken remotely so we would look for meet with your child in your home (or at school if that is easier).
Assessing females for ASD
We are increasingly receiving referrals for girls/young women with queries around Autism Spectrum Disorder. Many parents rightly ask whether we have specific expertise in this field, as females do present differently to males. Both Dr Jones and Dr Bird have extensive experience in assessing females, and Dr Bird has just completed a training course offered by the National Autistic Society on ways that the assessment and interpretation processes differ. Currently, well over half of our work relates to the diagnosis of females.
The assessments we offer are entirely independent, and this sometimes means that the conclusions do not align with what parents themselves believe might be going on for their child. In the vast majority of cases this is a positive for those seeking a robust outcome. It is essential that we maintain this independence, as otherwise the assessments may not be taken seriously by local services. This is particularly true if they feel that the diagnosis is that odds with how they view the child or young person.
We hope this information is useful. If you feel you have read enough and want to progress with an assessment, please use the contact form on our website as this helps us to keep a track of our enquiries and waiting list. You can access the form here.
Many thanks again for your interest in our services.
Dr Simon Bird and Dr Jonathan Jones
Consultant Clinical Psychologists