What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterised by difficulties in the core areas of social communication and language, together with restricted, repetitive behaviours, interests, or activities.
The presentation of Autism Spectrum Disorder varies considerably between individuals. Therefore, a comprehensive assessment is needed.
Who Makes a Diagnosis?
In Victoria, best practice for an Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessment involves a multidisciplinary team. This means that multiple professionals work together to carry out a wide-range of assessments.
A multidisciplinary team usually includes: a paediatrician or child psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a speech pathologist. In addition, other professionals might also be included, such as an occupational therapist. All professionals come together to bring insight based on their areas of expertise.
What might be involved in a comprehensive Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessment?
An Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessment involves an in-depth analysis of your child’s
developmental and medical history, as well as an assessment of your child’s current strengths and challenges. Each professional gathers this information over multiple sessions. Generally, they will do this through:
- A parent/caregiver session, whereby the professional will ask you about your child’s developmental history and current presentation. Each professional will ask you questions about your child’s development in their own areas of expertise.
- Screening questionnaires, which are forms completed by parents/caregivers and teachers regarding your child. These help to gain further information regarding characteristics and behaviours that may be associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- Child observations, where the professionals will meet your child and complete formal assessment tasks and observations. Areas that the professionals may assess and observe, include your child’s communication, social interactions, play and behaviours.
- Talking with teachers and/or completing classroom observations. With your consent, the professionals may liaise with your child’s childcare staff or teacher to help gain an overall picture of your child’s development.
Once each of the professionals has completed their assessment report, the paediatrician or child psychiatrist will bring all the results together and make the final decision as to whether the criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder is met.
Where do I start?
If you would like to discuss your situation and the possibility of Autism Spectrum Disorder, please book in an appointment with one of our psychologists experienced in the assessment and diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Alternatively if you are sure you would like an assessment you can make an appointment to see your G.P. and request a referral to see a paediatrician. The paediatrician will do an initial assessment of your concerns and may then refer you to a psychologist and a speech pathologist for a multi-disciplinary ASD assessment.
Sarah Gatt is a Hopscotch and Harmony Psychologist passionate about providing early intervention services to young children in order to help aid their development and reach their full potential. She creates a warm and safe therapeutic environment for children, by providing therapy in a creative and individualised manner. Sarah consults from our Werribee practice.