FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
about our Adult Autism Assessments
Adult autism assessments
How long do I have to wait for an assessment?
The current waiting time is in excess of 12 months from your referral.
How to cope with anxiety/feelings before the assessment and/or after.
The assessment can be a difficult process. We have to ask a lot of questions about your childhood and difficult times in your life. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember. Sometimes it can be upsetting, especially if you have had some bad experiences. Looking after yourself is really important.
Let us know if the assessment is going to be difficult for you. We will try to support you as much as we can. Tell us if you have any reasonable adjustments that will help you to cope with the assessment.
It might help to write down the information you want to tell us during the assessment. You could use the list to remind yourself, or you could give it to the assessor to read before the appointment.
The appointments can be exhausting. After an appointment you might want to:
Spend time alone to process the information.
Do something you enjoy to distract yourself.
Have some quiet time to recover.
If you are worried that the assessment might affect your mental health, talk to whoever supports you. Then they will know you might need some extra support during this time.
Can I bring someone along with me on my appointments?
Yes, you can bring someone to support you, but please don’t bring children. It is really helpful to hear from partners and/or parents and there will be time for this during your assessment. There are parts of the assessment where they will need to wait in another room.
What if my parents have died or are not able to contribute to the assessment?
During the screening appointment we ask if we can involve your parents in the assessment. That is because there is a ‘gold standard’ assessment tool called the ADI-R where parents give us information. We try to use the ADI-R if we can because it is good practice.
We can still complete assessments without talking to parents. We will ask you about things you remember from when you were young, if you have any nursery or school reports, or other documents about when you were young. We can also ask your doctor for information from your records.
If you can’t remember anything from your childhood, and you and your doctors don’t have any documents then it would be difficult for us to give a confident diagnosis. However most people can remember some things, or have some records.
Some people are worried about asking their parents to be involved in their assessment. Sometimes people worry that their parents don’t understand their difficulties. The ADI-R asks for factual information e.g. how old you were when you began to talk. It doesn’t ask for their opinion. Being able to talk to your parents helps us find out about any concerns they had, or any appointments or assessments you might have had when you were little that you might not know about or remember.
What tools to you use to carry out an autism assessment?
We follow NICE guidance and can use tools such as ADOS 2, ADI-R and DISCO to support our assessments. We can also use formal assessments to assess communication and cognitive ability. We tailor each assessment to an individual’s needs.
How many appointments do I have to attend before I get my diagnosis?
This is the process for the assessment: Autism Assessment Pathway
How many appointments you will have depends on lots of things. Sometimes we need to add in extra appointments for communication or cognitive assessments. Some people need shorter appointments to help them to cope, which means there might be more.
We will talk to you about your assessment. If you don’t need extra appointments, and want to do the assessment all in one day, then you will only need 2 appointments. The screening appointment and the assessment . This can be a long and hard day, and it doesn’t work for everyone. Most people will need more.
How long is my assessment appointment?
This can depend on the assessments being used and your needs. Some people want to complete their assessment in one day; others choose to spread it over a number of appointments. Either can be accommodated.
It is important to us that you feel that your assessment has been right for you, and we have had the opportunity to understand your needs.
Will the assessor understand that I mask/have coping strategies?
Yes, our assessments help us to tell if you are masking. We will also ask you about the skills you have developed to overcome challenges. We have worked with lots of autistic adults, who have masked in lots of different ways.
What if I already have a diagnosis of mental health difficulties?
Autistic people can have mental health difficulties too. Lots of people who come for an assessment already have a mental health diagnosis.
We will look at:
Whether your difficulties are because of your mental health diagnosis, or if it might be autism instead (differential diagnosis)
If your difficulties are a mixture of autism and your mental health diagnosis (co-existing condition)
Am I too old?
There is no upper age limit for an Autism assessment. We have had referrals for people who are in their 70s. The reason people ask for assessment is often to understand themselves, this is important no matter what your age you are.
Will I be told the outcome of my diagnosis at my assessment appointment?
We aim to let you know the outcome of your assessment at the end of your last appointment, but this is not always possible. Sometimes we need time to look at the information.
Do I get a detailed report of my assessment after my assessment?
Yes, we will send you a draft, and you can check you are happy with it before getting a final copy.
If I get a diagnosis of autism will I get support around understanding my autism?
Yes, you will be offered a 1:1 appointment to work on a person centred plan, and we also run a talk or webinar about autism every month. We also have talks that your friends or family members can come to if you would like us to invite them.
Do I need to inform the DVLA?
You must tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if you consider that you have a disability that affects your ability to drive safely.
** You only need to notify the DVLA if being autistic affects your ability to drive safely.**
If you have a condition that affects your ability to drive safely, and you do not disclose it when you apply for your provisional license, you could be fined up to £1000 and be prosecuted if you are involved in an accident.
The guidelines say that safe driving involves, among other things: vision, visuospatial perception, hearing, attention and concentration, memory, insight and understanding, judgement, adaptive strategies, good reaction time, planning and organisation, ability to self-monitor, sensation, muscle power and control, coordination.
Initially, it may be worth telling your GP that you are thinking of learning to drive and discussing the guidelines with them.
Do I have to inform my employer?
You are not required to tell your employer, or write on job applications, if you have a diagnosis of Autism, but you may find it useful to.
Employers are legally obliged to support you and make reasonable adjustments.
There may be better understanding from your colleagues and manager.
You won’t have to try and hide that you are autistic.
You may be met with a lack of understanding and adjustments.
You may be worried about prejudice from your employer.
You may find it more difficult to fit in with your colleagues.