Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects, among other things, the way an individual relates to his or her environment and interacts with others. It can be a condition of “extremes” where an individual can experience “too much” of something (such as extra sensitivity to noise) or “too little” of other things (such as social understanding).
Learning that you have, or your child has, autism, can be confronting. For some, it is traumatic as they realise the future they had envisaged might now be affected by limitations. For others, a positive diagnosis can signal relief, as it provides clarity and understanding around difficulties being experienced in daily life.
An autism diagnosis has the potential to open doors to services that can support an individual’s ability to interact socially and improve understanding and functioning in all settings — personal relationships, school and work.
CatholicCare provides a gold-standard Diagnostic Assessment Service based on current evidence for autism spectrum disorders in children, adolescents and adults. Our psychologists have training and an interest in autism spectrum disorders and conduct comprehensive assessments.
Our diagnostic assessment aims to determine whether an individual meets criteria for autism and provides information about an individual’s unique presentation and support needs. Not only do people with autism need support for a number of difficulties, they also have many strengths due to the unique way they see the world. We work with families in enhancing these strengths.
In order to provide a quality assessment service, CatholicCare uses best-practice standard assessments. Up to four face-to-face sessions are provided.
- Initial assessment consultation: We meet with the parent/s or carers, and the child to be assessed. This session allows for collection of background information and if relevant, the completion of some screening questionnaires. A questionnaire for the child’s pre-school or schoolteacher is also distributed, allowing us to gain an idea of how the child responds in a setting outside the home. We also have the opportunity to meet the child before we complete a formal assessment, allowing some observation time.
- Diagnostic interview: This is a formal interview with the parent/s or carer. We use the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised and it may take up to three hours to complete.
- Structured play observation: This is a formal observation assessment with the child, and we use the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. This assessment takes up to one hour.
- Feedback session: Once all the information has been assessed and a report has been completed, an invitation is extended to review the results. Copies of the report are provided, which also includes recommendations for support.
Sometimes, further information may be required to complete a comprehensive assessment. There may be times where it is appropriate for us to visit the child’s school for observation. If additional information is required, we will discuss any additional costs with you in advance.
CatholicCare also provides review assessments for individuals who already have a diagnosis of autism. This applies when up-to-date information is required, for example, at times of transition, to review progress and guide interventions, to support funding applications and to access the NDIS.
If further assessments are required in order to inform learning needs more effectively, CatholicCare is able to complete cognitive and other developmental assessments.
We understand that autism not only affects the individual, but also loved ones. Accordingly, at CatholicCare we are committed to supporting families to develop an enhanced understanding of autism. This assists families to build stronger relationships and provides the individual with a greater level of support and development.
Referral and rebates
It is not necessary to have a referral from a health professional for an autism assessment. However, with a referral from a paediatrician or child psychiatrist, Medicare rebates are available for up to four autism assessment sessions for children under the age of 13.
Download a referral form here and return the form to us by email before the first appointment.
- Please note: existing clients of CatholicCare may not need to complete the Initial Assessment Consultation as screening questionnaires and gathering of background information may already have occurred during the counselling sessions before referral for a formal assessment.
- If a child is already receiving support through an Early Intervention Service or registered with the National Disability Insurance Scheme, please enquire as to whether there is funding available, which may cover part or all of the assessment service.
- People with private health insurance should enquire about eligibility for any rebates for diagnostic assessments.
If you are interested in booking an appointment, please contact us using the form below.