Autism Assessments

Autism assessments for children and teenagers in London

Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that impacts on how people interact with the world and those around them. You might see it referred to as autism spectrum condition (ASC), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Asperger’s syndrome or high / low functioning autism. All of these terms are used to describe different parts of the “autism spectrum”.

Harwood Child Psychology specialises in the highest quality, gold standard autism assessments. Dr Harwood has transferred the experience he gained from working with the national and specialist neurodevelopmental assessment and support service in his NHS role at the Maudsley Hospital, to make sure that the specialist autism assessments that are completed through Harwood Child Psychology are the very best quality.

We specialise in traditionally hard to assess cases such as younger children (2.5 years +), girls with high masking behaviours and children with a pathological demand avoidance (PDA) profile.

Learning & communication difficulties
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What makes an autism assessment with Harwood Child Psychology stand out?

We don’t believe in just assessing, providing a report and then leaving families on their own. We will support you and your family from start to finish. What makes us different is that we will complete a high quality autism assessment and then will offer different support packages afterwards for your whole family, including our popular package for parents of newly diagnosed children (see here) and also direct support for your child if needed.

We are not a factory type clinic churning out labels, we believe in doing high quality assessments that see the child and family as a whole, not just narrowly looking for a label. This means the support and recommendations are really tailored to your child.

If you are not sure whether a full autism assessment is needed, we can offer a one hour screening session with you and your child. We cannot diagnose in this time as a full assessment is still needed, but we will be able to give you a good idea of whether it is worthwhile pursuing a full diagnostic assessment and next steps.

With autism assessments, it is important that they follow the guidelines set out by the NHS and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). These guidelines tell clinicians what is needed in a robust and gold standard assessment. Many companies and clinics will not follow these guidelines in an attempt to save time and money, but that puts your child at risk as any diagnosis and recommendations that come out of the assessment will often not be accepted by schools and other important organisations.

All autism assessments completed by Harwood Child Psychology are extremely thorough and we receive excellent feedback from parents. To date we have not had feedback from any family that a report written by us has not been accepted by a school. The reason for this is that we do extremely robust assessments.

  • We only use child specialist clinicians with the highest level of qualification and experience with autism assessments.
  • We use two experienced clinicians with every assessment, for extra confidence.
  • We liaise with your child’s school (with your consent) so they are on board with the assessment and they can provide evidence for what your child is like in their school environment.
  • Our reputation for providing high quality assessments means organisations are more likely to trust our findings.
  • We clearly document everything that we do, meaning that the report you receive will be extremely detailed, but it also means any organisations you might want to share the report with will have confidence that we have completed the assessment correctly.

How does an autism assessment work at Harwood Child Psychology?

  1. A quick call with a member of the Harwood Child Psychology team will help to answer any of your questions and help you to decide if you would like to proceed with a full autism assessment or an autism screening appointment. You will then be given a date for your first appointment.
  2. School information will be requested from you, including details of a teacher who knows your child well. With your permission we will contact your child’s school directly to obtain the information we need. If you would prefer your child’s school not to be involved, we can still proceed with the assessment but you should discuss this early on with your allocated clinician.
  3. A warm and friendly specialist autism clinician will meet with your child directly for approximately 1.5 hours. They will use up to date and validated tools such as the autism diagnostic observation schedule (ADOS) to assess for autism. Most children and teenagers find this assessment fun.
  4. Parents will be invited to an in depth interview where autism will be assessed from a parent’s perspective. Highly validated and up to date tools will be used, for example the autism diagnostic interview revised version (ADI-R). This can be done online or face to face, depending on your preference.
  5. You and your child (depending on their age) will be given a couple of psychometric questionnaires and tools to complete to help with the diagnosis.
  6. If you have selected to have a full learning assessment as well (see details below), a member of the team will complete this with your child. This will take 1.5 hours and can be scheduled for the same day as the other child parts of the assessment, as long as the schedule allows for it.
  7. Once we have gathered all of the information, your child’s clinicians meet to discuss the assessment. They come to a conclusion and plan the report together. If more information is needed we will let you know.
  8. A report is written, which will be detailed and comprehensive and will outline the outcome of the assessment, alongside recommendations and a plan.
  9. All assessments include a one hour feedback session with your lead clinician, where you can ask questions about the report and plan for further support if it is needed.
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Other important information

  • All assessments include screening for other potential neurodevelopmental conditions, such as ADHD.
  • We screen for common psychiatric and mental health difficulties such as anxiety, depression and OCD.
  • These assessments are comprehensive, involving different people and therefore take some time to complete. We want to have the assessments completed within 4 weeks, but this can sometimes depend on how long it takes your child’s school to get back to us.
  • We have an amazing, experienced and compassionate consultant child psychiatrist in our team, should you ever require medication as part of your child's treatment journey.

What is the comprehensive learning assessment?

A comprehensive learning assessment, sometimes called a cognitive assessment, is a useful addition to an autism assessment, but it is not a requirement for diagnosis. It can also be completed on its own, not as part of a diagnostic assessment. A learning assessment allows our clinicians to learn a bit more about how your child’s brain works, in particular what their pattern of strengths and weaknesses are with learning. This is extremely useful when figuring out what is going on for your child and giving recommendations for school and home.

A learning assessment is a detailed IQ test, but as well as an overall ability score, the results are broken down into specific categories such as:

  • Processing speed
  • Working memory
  • Verbal comprehension
  • Perceptual reasoning
  • Visual spatial ability.

Depending on your child’s age, different tests will be used. Cognitive tests have been studied on tens of thousands of children of all different ages, so you’ll be able to see how your child performs in different areas compared to children of their exact same age. Parents and teachers say this is very helpful as we often find that a child who is very able in one area is often less able in another, and their learning needs go unrecognised because they mostly “get by”. The exact tests to be used will be discussed with you at the start of your child’s assessment to make sure they are fully relevant. Don’t worry, these assessments are mostly completed on iPads and young people tend to find them fun.

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How much does an autism assessment cost?

Our assessments are very comprehensive and reliable, and therefore not the cheapest. All of our assessments are completed at a fixed cost and include everything written above. They all include a detailed report and feedback session. There are no added costs later.

  • Core autism assessment: £2095
  • Core autism assessment with comprehensive learning assessment: £2595
  • Comprehensive neurodevelopmental assessment, which includes a full autism, ADHD and learning assessment (see link to ADHD assessment for further information about that part of the assessment): £2995
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