We have a number of questions that are commonly asked by families and other professionals so we have answered some of them here to help.
I’m on the waiting list for an Autism assessment with the NHS – does that matter?
No. We often get enquiries from people who are on NHS waiting lists as NHS resources are so stretched. We can feedback the results of your assessment to your local NHS Neurodevelopmental Team if you are on their waiting list.
I’ve heard the NHS doesn’t accept private Autism diagnoses – is this true?
No. With your consent, we can send a copy of the assessment report to your local Neurodevelopmental Team (if you have already been referred to them). They will check the assessment has been done in an appropriate manner and led by a diagnostic clinician (Psychologist, Psychiatrist or Paediatrician). If they agree with the outcome, they will write to you stating this and advising you of any post-diagnostic NHS support you may be eligible for.
How will a diagnosis help?
Unfortunately all medical, educational and social/benefits services at present are set up to recognise diagnostic labels better than considering individuals on a person-centred basis. Therefore, having a diagnostic ‘label’ helps public services to better recognise a young person may have additional needs and put appropriate support provisions in place.
How quickly can I be seen?
We don’t operate a waiting list. We offer daytime, evening or weekend appointments at a flexible time for you. We would aim to see you as soon as possible after your enquiry, booking a time most convenient for you. Please bear in mind that we do require information from your young person’s school and cannot make a diagnostic decision without considering all the information. Therefore over school holiday periods, there may be a delay in the assessment process whilst this information is gathered.
What ages do you see?
In line with NICE guidance, we would not consider assessing a young person under the age of 24 months or under the developmental age of 18 months. Aside from this, there is no age limit to Autism assessment and we are able to see adults for assessment. In adult assessments it can be more difficult to gather the developmental history and so we would ask that a parent, aunt/uncle, sibling, partner or other person who has known the individual for a considerable length of time attends the assessment with them.
If I am paying for an assessment, does this guarantee a diagnosis?
No. As health professionals we abide by strict codes of ethics and conduct and simply cannot diagnose a condition if it does not truly apply for that individual. We understand it can be disappointing to have paid for an assessment and perhaps not get the outcome you expected. However, from the assessment provided by Enhancing Futures you will still be provided with an in-depth understanding of the difficulties faced and recommendations for support going forward, regardless of a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to an Autism diagnosis.
What if you assess and say it is not Autism?
Given the assessment we conduct is so comprehensive, we will have considered numerous ways to understand the difficulties presented. Therefore, if the assessment outcome is that Autism does not explain the difficulties, we will be able to help you better understand other diagnoses or reasons to explain the difficulties presented and what support may be helpful moving forward.
How long does it take?
The initial assessment appointment will take around 90 minutes. The assessment with the young person can take anything up to 60 minutes. The assessment with parent/carer may take longer given how detailed it is, and it could last anything up to four hours (split across more than one appointment).
The assessment will involve significant health professional time following the face-to-face appointments to go through all the information against diagnostic criteria to complete the assessment. As a result there may be a slight delay between the assessment appointments and the feedback appointment but this should be no more than 2-3 weeks. The assessment appointment will be pre-booked with you at the parent/carer assessment appointment.
Do I need to prepare anything?
We ask that the young person is not prepared for the assessment too much, other than to tell them they are coming to meet with us and do some activities. This is because in the assessment we are focussed on how they interact with people they know and don’t know, and how they engage in play-based activities. Any preparation may alter their presentation, at worst ‘masking’ their difficulties, meaning an accurate assessment is not made.
The parent/carer will however need to do some preparation. They will need to complete the screening questionnaires and liaise with school to complete their information (as school will require your consent to share information). The assessment itself will involve thinking about the young person’s current presentation but also their presentation between around the age of 4 so it may be helpful to have reviewed any school reports, medical letters, photographs or think about significant events from around this time (e.g. starting school, family holiday/celebration etc) to help aid memory of early development.
How can I pay?
We understand that this assessment is a significant investment. We can take payment by cash, bank transfer or card payment. If you would like to pay the amount over 2, 3 or 4 equal payments, this can be arranged at no extra cost, but please note assessment reports will not be released until the balance is paid in full.