ASSESSMENT & DIAGNOSIS for ADULTS
Autism Spectrum Conditions
Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) is a term used to cover what were previously a wide range of conditions which shared common areas of difficulty, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Asperger’s. ASC exists along a range or “spectrum” with some individuals experiencing more severe difficulties than others. Autism can present itself very differently between men and women so it's important to consult specialists.
At QUESTA we are able to provide a high quality assessment and post diagnostic support for people diagnosed with an ASC and their families. Our aim is to make day to day living easier.
The common symptoms of an ASC fall into three categories:
Finding it hard to understand what others are thinking or feeling
High anxiety in social situations
Difficulty making friends or preferring to be on your own
Being unaware of personal space
Disliking change, feeling more comfortable with routine
Appearing rude or uninterested in others without meaning to
Finding it hard to identify and communicate feelings
Taking things literally
Repetition of set words or phrases (echolalia)
Avoiding eye contact
Being unable to adapt the tone and content of speech to different situations
Sensory sensitivity, rigidity in behaviour
Over- or under-reacting to situations
Other signs of an ASC
Some of the other common signs of an ASC are having particularly narrow interests, displaying repetitive behaviours, having difficulty coping with change and hypo- or hyper-sensitivity.
Many people go through life feeling somehow ‘different’ or that they don’t fit in and wonder why. If that’s the case you may wish to obtain a formal diagnosis; it is the only way to know for sure if you are have an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) and the diagnosis can help you and the people around you understand the condition and cope.
What is the point of a diagnosis, is it worth it?
A thorough and timely assessment may be very helpful because:
• It may help others close to you understand why you find certain things difficult;
• Getting the right diagnosis (particularly if you have been wrongly diagnosed with another condition or mental health problem) means accessing the right guidance and helps others to understand your needs.
• It may help you to access appropriate services and benefits.
• It means that informed employers, colleges and universities can make reasonable adjustments to make the your environment more user-friendly.
How is an ASC diagnosed?
We offer a recognised assessment and diagnosis service for Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASCs)/Asperger’s syndrome. These assessments can help you to better understand your own strengths and difficulties. It may be beneficial for you to spend some time before your assessment considering how you would like your life to be different or what you would like to be doing which you currently aren’t, e.g. making friends, having a more varied job or living more independently. These goals or aims can help inform how we consider making recommendations or supporting you following the assessment. We use formal assessment measures as recommended by The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE).
There are 5 stages to the assessment process:
After correspondence with our Practise Administrator or Assistant Psychologist you will be booked in for an initial assessment and sent questionnaires for both you and someone who knows you well to complete.
Initial screening session.
This session will last for around 90 minutes and will include a clinical interview and discussion of the completed questionnaires. At the end of this session the psychologist will be able to tell you whether a full assessment is necessary based upon your questionnaires and their clinical expertise. You can then decide whether, if clinically necessary, you wish to embark on the formal assessment process. If there is sufficient evidence to justify progressing to the full diagnostic assessment, the stages are as follows:
A formal assessment will involve the completion of further psychometric measures and a thorough interview. A nationally recommended diagnostic instrument, such as the ADI-R will be used. It explores your answers from the questionnaires and builds on the assessment information already gathered. This usually takes two further 90 minute sessions.
A structured observation using the ADOS-2 (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) is conducted, usually with a different member of the team, to offer further objective direct assessment. It is a semi-structured standardised assessment of communication, social interaction and play or imaginative use of materials adapted to adults.
Multi-disciplinary team review and report.
All of the measures will be scored and interpreted. The multi-disciplinary team then reviews the information, decides on the diagnosis and produces a report. The report will detail the results and whether or not you meet criteria for a diagnosis of ASC. Recommendations about the next steps will be made. This involves considerable work ‘behind the scenes’ and is reflected in the costing of the assessment package.
This session is designed to share the outcome of diagnosis (whether or not you meet criteria for an ASC), go through the results of the assessment process as detailed in the report. Recommendations will be discussed and any changes to the report can be made. This report is then sent to you, the client. Further help and support that we are able to provide or help that can be provided by other services can also be discussed.
If the assessment outcome was a diagnosis of autism, or if a need was identified at initial assessment stage, we also offer additional further post-assessment or therapy sessions to offer support, guidance and advice to address any on-going needs you may have.
Help and Support Post diagnosis or for Mental Health Problems
It is very common for people with Autism to experience difficulties such as anxiety disorders, particularly OCD, and depression and low self-esteem. There may also be long-term post traumatic stress.
There is no “cure” for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Some interventions can be very helpful in improving day to day life by helping with communication skills, education and social skills.
The type of approach which will be most helpful can be discussed with the practitioner conducting the assessment as they will have an in-depth understanding of the difficulties that you and your family are experiencing.