Assessments for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Connect Psychology is a group of Psychologists and Speech Pathologists with many years’ experience assessing children, teenagers and adults with a wide range of developmental and learning difficulties; social, emotional, and relationship problems and challenging behaviour, with particular expertise in ASD.

Several clinical practitioners at Connect Psychology are recognised by Autism SA to undertake diagnostic assessments for ASD, for both children and adults. Connect Psychology also offers comprehensive intervention for children with ASD.

What happens in an ASD diagnostic assessment?

A diagnostic assessment at Connect Psychology involves an assessment of all aspects of behaviour, development and history to determine whether an individual meets the current DSM V criteria for a diagnosis of ASD or if there are any other alternative explanations for the individual’s behaviours and concerns. Connect Psychology clinicians do this through structured interviews with parents, looking at questionnaire results, direct observation of behaviour interacting with your child, and standardised clinical assessment tools. Sometimes, observations at childcare/school are necessary.

Dual / single assessments

To be eligible for registration with Autism SA, a diagnosis must be agreed upon by two professionals from different disciplines. This can be done as a DUAL diagnostic assessment, which is two different professionals undertaking the assessment: a Clinical Psychologist and a Speech Pathologist. A dual assessment is sometimes required for your child to be accepted as a participant in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Recently, the Education Department has stated that they will accept a diagnosis from a SINGLE practitioner for access to disability support in schools. We are not sure if this decision will be overturned again soon. ASD is a social communication disorder and we strongly feel that the inclusion of a Speech Pathologist looking at social communication and language issues, assessing the extent to which these are contributing to the difficulties a child is facing, is a very important part of the assessment, so we continue to recommend a DUAL assessment. However, this is more costly than a SINGLE assessment. Adults often find a single assessment is sufficient.

Dual: At Connect Psychology, a dual diagnostic assessment is with both a Clinical Psychologist and a Speech Pathologist at the same time. Dual diagnostic assessments are usually offered on Saturdays. The assessment includes three hours of interview with parents and interaction with your child, or for adults for you and a significant other person in your life, including feedback about the outcome, and the fee includes the provision of a comprehensive written report. We will ask for information in questionnaires sent to you and your child’s teacher before the assessment. The fee is $880 for the Clinical Psychologist and $760 for the Speech Pathologist (total $1640).

Single: if you choose a single assessment by either a Clinical Psychologist or Speech Pathologist: Single assessments are usually offered over several dates, but can be undertaken in a single day., usually a Saturday. The fee is $960 for an assessment by a Clinical Psychologist or $880 for a Speech Pathologist.

Any additional hours required such as school visits or completing application forms are $250 per hour (Psychologist) or $220 per hour (Speech Pathologist).

Payment

If an appropriate referral has been put in place by a GP or Paediatrician you may be entitled to Medicare rebates, but there will still be a gap for you to pay. Alternatively, you may be able to claim some of the fee on your private health funds. The component of the written report is not claimable. Payment is required on the day of the assessment, unless negotiated.

Clients with NDIS funding should speak to Jenni Pearce to consider whether any part of the assessment can be covered using NDIS funds.

What will happen on the day of the assessment?

DUAL ASSESSMENTS: for child assessments: After a brief introduction time all together, parents will meet with one of the professionals, and your child will spend time with the other professional, for between 1 and 1 1/2 hours. Depending on your child’s age and your concerns, there may be a formal assessment undertaken of your child’s language or cognitive development. At some stage, the two professionals may swap so that each spends time with your child. After a short break, we will meet with parents alone for another hour to gather further information and give you feedback, including our opinion about whether your child meets criteria for the diagnosis of ASD. During this last hour, with parents alone, it will be necessary for you either to have someone who can collect your child or to care for your child in the waiting room (for younger children) , or for you to have brought material that will entertain your child for this last hour (for older children). For an adult assessment, we will spend most of the three hours together.

SINGLE ASSESSMENTS: Single assessments can be completed in a single three hour appointment or may be completed over three sessions, each of 50 minutes. For child assessments, the first session will be parents only, the second session will be for the child only, and we will let you know about the third session, which is the feedback session.

Sometimes, observations at childcare/school are necessary. An additional fee applies.

What happens after the assessment?

Feedback is provided to you on the day, usually without your child depending on their age. This is a crucial part of the process at Connect Psychology: it is an opportunity for you to discuss the outcome of the assessment, consider other explanations for what is concerning you, “where to from now” and how best to support your child, or how to access support for you as an adult. Later, we send you a detailed written report outlining the reasons for the outcome of the assessment.

If an individual meets the criteria for a diagnosis of ASD, with your consent the necessary registration forms will be forwarded to Autism SA, which is the organisation that registers individuals with ASD in South Australia.

On the basis of a diagnosis by Connect Psychology, children and adults will become eligible to be a participant in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and parents will be eligible to receive Carer’s Allowance. We are very happy for you to arrange a further session to help guide you through the process of applying for NDIS funding, and complete an Access Request Form for NDIS. We can also complete the Carers Allowance and other forms for you in this additional session.

How do I arrange an assessment?

Simply phone Connect Psychology on 8357 0043 between 9:30 and 5:00. Our Receptionist will be happy to answer any further questions and offer you the next available appointments.

Jenni Pearce Jan Hooper Kathy Moar

Clinical Psychologist Speech Pathologist Clinical Psychologist