Frequently asked questions
Why seek a diagnosis? What difference might it make?
Many people seek a diagnosis because they want to feel that they belong and to be validated for who they are, often having felt ‘different’ from other people for a long time but not understanding why. A diagnosis can help people make sense of their life experiences, accept and embrace their neurodivergence and feel more comfortable with who they are – without having to work so hard to camouflage their differences. A diagnosis may also help access services and statutory benefits.
Many children whose parents seek a diagnosis have struggled in mainstream schools because the system has not been designed for neurodiverse children. A diagnosis for children can be essential to help access appropriate educational and therapeutic provision. Diagnosis can help children accept their individual identity – rather than feeling there is something ‘wrong’ - and guide others in adjusting their expectations and accommodating these children’s needs.
Often by the time you come to us for an assessment, you may already be convinced that an ASD diagnosis is appropriate but need professional confirmation and recommendations. In other cases, you may not be sure if what you or your loved one is experiencing is autism or something else. A diagnosis will clarify: is it autism?
Will you tell me on the day if I have a diagnosis?
Careful analysis of the standardised interviews and observation schedules does take time. The diagnostic process takes place over a period of days. We will sometimes be able to give you a clear indication by the end of the assessment process, but in other cases we may need longer to ensure that a diagnosis is not rushed through.
What will the assessment involve?
After an introductory phone conversation, the first stage of the process involves completion of standardised screening measures which also include telling us in your own words, some of the challenges experienced. Once these are analysed we will quickly be able to establish whether a full diagnostic assessment is needed.
The full diagnostic assessment is compliant with NICE guidelines and includes: a full developmental interview (typically conducted with parents or carers); administration of the Autism Diagnosis Observational Schedule (ADOS-3); neuropsychological testing to establish patterns of cognitive functioning; screening measures for other psychological conditions that might be related to or contradict an ASD diagnosis; observation in different settings and clinical interview.
We prefer to see children in at least two different settings. And where appropriate and agreed, we will visit children at school and gather information from educational staff. A home visit may also be needed. The process will be agreed with you after the screening measures are complete.
Usually the assessment process takes roughly six hours face-to-face consultation in total.
Why is assessment sometimes different for girls and women?
Our understanding of autism has continued to expand rapidly in recent years. There is a spectrum of presentations of autism, influenced by demographic and cultural factors. Girls and women may have ‘less obvious’ presentations, and camouflaging may be so effective that very careful analysis is needed for diagnosis. Many people have been mis-diagnosed in the past because of the unique way in which girls and women present. We carefully select the measures we use to take account of the diversity of presentation of everyone.
How much will it cost?
Please email for a quote.
How many people will I need to meet?
One of our clinicians will take on the case management role for your assessment and they will be the primary person in charge of the assessment. During the process you will meet at least two clinicians in the team. We know that meeting new people can be daunting and sometimes overwhelming, so we will work with you to make you feel as comfortable as possible.
Are your premises accessible?
Our premises at The Consulting Rooms, 77 Newmarket Road, Norwich do have an accessible room. Other rooms are upstairs. Our premises at Thetford Innovation Centre are accessible to wheelchair users.
Can we do the assessment remotely?
We always prefer to conduct assessments face-to-face. The developmental interview with parents can be conducted remotely if necessary.