What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that affects approximately 1 in 88 children* (*Research findings as of 2013). ASD is characterised by persistent deficits in social communication and social interactions with restrictive, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities.
Why is Early Diagnosis Important?
Children who have an ASD don’t look that different from typically developing children when they are between 12 to 18 months of age, and therefore often don’t get diagnosed until later on when the signs become more obvious. Autism is usually identified when children are almost at school age, in Australia the average age of diagnosis is 4 years. Late identification of ASD can have a negative impact on prognosis and long term outcomes? Research has shown that early intervention for many children with Autism makes a major difference in their outcomes. Furthermore, recent research has argued the possibility that earliy intervention can prevent regression from occurring and reducing symptoms of ASD.
Early treatment of ASD can have significant positive impacts on the child’s development, health and wellbeing along with preventing unnecessary family distress. Studies into the impact on early intervention have found that toddlers with ASD who received treatment were shown to have an increase in 15 IQ points following treatment. It’s during the first 3 years of life that the connections between brain cells are made that are essential for the development of complex social behaviours. If children with ASD are diagnosed early and receive intervention before mature brain circuitry they stand the best chance of seeing positive outcomes following intervention.
Some key signs in children with ASD aged 12-24 months include:
- Reduced or atypical eye contact
- (I feel like this is similar to “social smile” below)
- Reduced social smile
- Does not often pointto show or request items
- Does not follow with their eyes if you point
- Reduced or no response to their name
- Limited or no imaginative or pretend play
A child may use eye contact or show other typical behaviours on occasion, however if the behaviours listed above are present the majority of the time, screening or assessment for an Autism Spectrum Disorder may be warranted.
Why use our service?
ASD is a complex disorder and therefore requires thorough diagnostic assessments by a multidisciplinary team made up of a paediatrician/child psychiatrist, psychologist and speech pathologist. The industry standard instruments to assess ASD are the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale- 2nd Edition (ADOS-2) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview- Revised (ADI-R). These diagnostic tools should be used together with other assessments to form part of a thorough diagnostic assessment. In-School Psychology can conduct a diagnostic assessment for Autism, however a paediatrician and speech pathologist would also need to be consulted for a comprehensive diagnosis to be made.
Where possible assessment our Autism assessmens are consensus scored; meaning that two trained psychologists both score and agree on the assessment and ultimate diagnosis the child receives. We are passionate about offering a gold standard service in assessment and management.
The diagnostic process occurs over multiple sessions which includes:
- Autism Diagnostic Interview- Revised (ADI-R) conducted with parents/guardian. (approximately 1.5-2 hours)
- Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2). This consists of a series of play activities with the child, which allows for observations of their behaviour and communication. This session may be recorded with parent permission for consensus scoring by another psychologist.
- Feedback of diagnostic report by psychologist.
Complete Psychologist Diagnostic Assessment- $1000
- Includes two to three sessions with psychologist:
- ADOS-2, ADI-R, feedback and report
- Consensus scored ADOS by 2 psychologists where possible.
The below services can be used when part of the diagnostic process has already been completed by other professionals.
|Autism Diagnostic Interview + report||$500|
|Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule+ report||$600|
|Cognitive/Developmental Assessment + report||$650|
*Children under the age of 13 years who have been referred directly by a paediatrician or child psychiatrist may be eligible for a Medicare rebate of up to $336 under the Helping Children with Autism Initiative towards diagnosis.