Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Assessment Sydney
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD)
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Behavioural Disorders
- Developmental Delay
- Emotional Disorders and Trauma
- Intellectual Disability
- Learning Difficulty/Disability
Child Assessment & Testing - Autism Spectrum Disorders
Welcome to our Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) information section. We provide complete ASD diagnostic assessments, previously known as Autistic Disorder, Asperger's Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).
Our assessments performed only by approved Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) clinicians and our assessment fees are covered by Medicare under the Australian Government's Helping Children with Autism initiative.
On the following pages you will find information about the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders, the testing process of Autism diagnosis, information about accessing Medicare approved assessment services and the likely outcome for children with ASDs. Please browse through the tabs below and if you have any questions, email or call us to discuss your concerns.
Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
Autism Spectrum Disorders are characterised by significant and chronic impairment in a number of different developmental areas. The main developmental domains that affected are social interaction (especially the perception of social cues), impaired communication skills (both verbal and non-verbal) and stereotyped behaviour patterns, interests and activities.
Autism Spectrum Disorders previously included the subtypes of Autistic Disorder, Asperger's Disorder/Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). Since the release of the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), these subtypes have been replaced by a single definition of Autism Spectrum Disorders, indicating either Mild, Moderate or Severe condition.
A brief description of the different developmental areas that are commonly impaired in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders is outlined below:
The most easily recognisable characteristic of ASDs is a gross impairment in reciprocal social functioning. Children with ASDs don't respond to other people's emotions and lack "theory of mind", the knowledge that others possess feelings, wants and desires. When these children interact with others they show an inability to rely on non-verbal skills, such as eye contact, appropriate facial expression, gestures and body posture. Consequently, they are unable to form close and enduring relationships. Similarly, children with ASDs show little or no need for social relationships and sharing.
Most often communication problems manifest by delay in language development, the inability to initiate or maintain a conversation, idiosyncratic language use (e.g., repetition of single words) and the lack of age appropriate make believe play.
ASDs are often characterised by stereotyped behaviour patterns, interests and activities. Children with ASDs can be obsessive about routines, timetables or objects. They may show stereotyped and repetitive motor movements, such as flapping fingers or wrists, walking on toes or whole body movements. Children may also show extreme fascination with moving or spinning objects and can spend an excessive amount of time watching the same movement.
PREVIOUS AUTISM SPECTRUM SUBTYPES
For informational purposes we included this section about the previous subtypes of developmental disorders. Although the difficulties children and adults with ASDs experience are similar, due to the the variation of symptoms, past diagnoses differed significantly. Before the introduction of DSM-5, the main ASD subtypes were:
Autistic disorder refers to a condition where all the three important developmental areas were affected (social functioning, communication and behaviour patterns). Children with Autistic Disorder showed symptoms before age 3 years. Autistic disorder is also often accompanied by intellectual disability.
Asperger's disorder, often called high functioning autism, was characterised by impaired social functioning and stereotyped behaviour patterns and interests. Children with Asperger's disorder showed no deficit in speech development and language use. Similarly, children with Asperger's disorder showed intact or above average intellectual ability.
PERVASIVE DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDER - NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED (PDD-NOS)
This condition refered to significant social impairment, but without diagnosable communication and/or behavioural deficit. Both communication difficulties and/or behavioural patterns could be present, but only to a mild degree and without leading to a significant functional impairment.
COURSE AND PROGNOSIS
The course of ASDs is chronic and difficult to treat. The most important part of treatment is family therapy and the education of family members about the disorder. A patient and skillful approach can significantly improve the quality of life for children with ASDs. Long term outcome also depends on the child's intelligence, with higher intellectual ability often predicting better overall functioning.
Autism Diagnosis Sydney - General Information
Currently the only available assessment process to reliably diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorders is based around two specific tests. First, a clinical interview to obtain a detailed and relevant developmental history, and second, the administration of a series of structured activities aimed at evaluating presenting symptoms.
To comply with this process, the "golden standard" in Autism diagnosis involves the administration of two well established and researched assessment instruments, the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). Both tests are administered by trained professionals, such as clinical psychologists, child psychiatrists and paediatricians.
A child's developmental history is an important starting point to evaluate the presence of ASDs. Therefore, information gathering involves a detailed clinical interview with the parents or caregivers, most often using the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R). The interview responses are scored with the aid of a specifically designed algorithm. The ADI-R algorithm for autism is consistent with both the ICD-10 and DSM-IV diagnostic criteria.
When available, additional information is obtained from other sources, such as speech pathology reports, teachers' reports and other family members.
EVALUATION OF PRESENTING SYMPTOMS
Due to its chronic nature, children with ASDs present with characteristic symptoms in most circumstances. To evaluate the symptoms and to differentiate them from other disorders (e.g., intellectual disability, genetic disorders) clinicians rely on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS).
The ADOS is the most widely used psychological test to evaluate communication, social interaction, play and imaginative skills for children and adults suspected of having autism or other pervasive developmental disorders (PDD). The ADOS contains four separate tests, differentiated by children's and adults' developmental and language levels. It can be administered to children with no expressive or receptive language use to children and adults with fluent verbal skills.
When possible, the assessment of ASDs includes an observation of the child in his or her natural environment, such as day care centre, school or home. Observation in natural settings is particularly important when no information is available about early development.
Autism Diagnostic Services Sydney
We are one of the few independent clinics that provides Autism diagnosis and evaluation of Autism Spectrum Disorders. As an independent clinic, we offer a number of benefits to families and individuals seeking professional assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
STANDARDISED ASSESSMENT PROCEDURES
We have specialised training and use standard diagnostic tests (ADI-R/ADOS) as required by paediatricians and hospitals. The combination of these tests is the most reliable way to evaluate the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders and it is considered a minimum standard in the diagnostic process. We are also approved Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) psychology providers and our assessments are covered by Medicare under the Australian Government's Helping Children with Autism initiative.
SHORT WAITING LIST
The waiting list for a diagnostic assessment varies from time to time. However, based on previous experiences, we are most likely able to offer an appointment within 6 to 8 weeks from the date you contuct us. Call us for more information about appointments on 02 8068 8661.
Our reports are prepared within 5 to 10 working days from the date of the assessment. Our reports include a summary of developmental history, behavioural observations, structured ADI-R/ADOS interpretation, specific recommendations and referrals for treatment (if deemed necessary).
COMPETITIVE FEE STRUCTURE
Our fee for a diagnostic assessment and report is $900. When the ASD assessment is combined with an intellectual ability (IQ) assessment, the fee is $1100. Children aged under 13 years are eligible for a Medicare rebate up to $377.20.
FULL GOVERNMENT AND MEDICARE SUPPORT
Our assessments are supported by and part of the Helping Children with Autism initiative. The Helping Children with Autism initiative is a nation wide approach to involve medical and allied health professionals in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Accordingly, both the assessment and treatment of ASDs are covered by Medicare.
The Medicare rebate for assessment is restricted to accessing eligible psychologists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists. These services can only be accessed with appropriate referral from a paediatrician or child psychiatrist.
Upon referral from your paediatrician or child psychiatrist the pathway to access our services under the Medicare scheme is shown below:
02 8068 8661