Autism Assessment Service

What is Autism?

Autism Assessment

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability. The term Autism (or Autistic) Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a diagnostic label, which describes a range of conditions (including Autism, Asperger's syndrome or High Functioning Autism (HFA)) that affect a person's social interaction, social communication, social imagination / interests, and stereotypical or repetitive behaviours. The word ‘spectrum’ captures the fact that although there is a common core that defines the disorder or condition, there are many ways that Autism can affect an individual’s life. Some are able to live relatively ‘normal’ lives; others will require a high level of supervision and support.

Children or teenagers with Autism may display some of the following behaviours:

  • Having problems using non-verbal behaviours to interact with others – for example, they may have difficulty with eye contact, facial expressions, body language and gestures;
  • They may lack awareness of, and interest in, other children. They may gravitate to older or younger children, rather than interacting with children of the same age. They may also appear isolated and prefer to play alone. Some children don’t demonstrate imaginative or pretend play, while others will continually repeat the same pretend play;
  • They can find it hard to interpret other people's emotions, often missing non-verbal clues, and have difficulty starting conversations or taking part in them in a socially appropriate way;
  • Children with Autism may repeat words or phrases spoken by others either immediately or later (known as echolalia) without formulating their own language, or in parallel to developing their language. Some children will use ‘stock’ answers and find it difficult to make choices;
  • Some children with Autism like to stick to the same routine and little changes in routine may trigger distressed or challenging behaviour;
  • Some children may flap their hands or twist / flick their fingers when they’re excited or upset;
  • Others may engage in repetitive activity, such as turning light switches on and off, opening and closing doors, or lining things up;
  • They will often have cognitive, learning, emotional and behavioural difficulties;
  • Some children may have sensory sensitivities and difficulties, such as not being able to tolerate loud noises or seeking out tactile stimulations.

The exact cause of Autism is unknown, but it's thought that several complex genetic and environmental factors are involved. Therefore, there is no ‘cure’ for Autism but there are various tried and tested interventions and approaches that can be used to specifically teach the social skills that are lacking and structure the environment to best support the children and families to cope with the world they live in. Autism in girls is less common – various studies show men/women ratios range from 2:1 to 16:1. However, recent research suggests that girls may be under-diagnosed as they present differently (Gould and Ashton-Smith 2011; Attwood, 2007). More information and support can be obtained from the National Autistic Society.

Assessment and Diagnosis

Wiltshire Psychology Service offers a full and comprehensive Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) assessment for children and young people. The full assessment follows the ASD Clinical Guidelines produced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The assessments are carried out by a multidisciplinary team and always include a Clinical Psychologist and a Speech and Language Therapist. All professionals involved in the assessment have extensive experience and expertise in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Information is always sought from your child’s school/nursery as well as any professionals involved in your child’s care.

ASD Initial Consultation

This is a consultation with a Clinical Psychologist to carry out an initial ASD screening assessment. This will last approximately 90 minutes and include taking a developmental history of your child and a discussion about your child’s behavioural, emotional and learning needs. You will also be asked to complete an ASD screening measure. The Clinical Psychologist will discuss with you whether the full diagnostic ASD assessment is indicated. If no further assessment is warranted or indicated, then you will receive a written report, detailing the initial assessment and any recommendations or support options.

ASD Assessment

Multi-disciplinary Autism Spectrum Diagnostic Assessment Package

If a full assessment is indicated, then this will follow on from the initial consultation. The full assessment will involve two further appointments at Brinkworth House. The Clinical Psychologist will also liaise with your child’s school/nursery and other relevant professionals to gather further information about your child’s needs.

At the first appointment (approximately 1.5 hrs):

  • The Clinical Psychologist will meet with you to go through detailed questions about your child’s social communication skills and their development;
  • The Speech and Language Therapist will carry out an assessment of your child’s social communication and interaction skills.

Please note that in some cases there may be an option for the Speech and Language Therapist to complete this part of the assessment in the school or nursery setting.

At the second appointment (approximately 2.5 hrs):

  • The Clinical Psychologist will carry out an assessment of your child using the Autism Diagnostic Observational Schedule (ADOS-2);
  • There will then be a break of approximately 30 minutes followed by a feedback session, when the Clinical Psychologist and Speech and Language Therapist will discuss their diagnostic findings with reference to all the available information received. If there are discrepancies between reported signs or symptoms and observations in the clinical setting, an autism-specific observation in a different setting such as school, nursery or at home might be required.

A full written report of the assessment will be produced within two weeks. The report will include a full explanation of the diagnostic decision and will include recommendations regarding support for your child or young person.

Follow-up Support

For children and young people with a diagnosis of autism, a follow-up appointment for further discussion about the conclusions of the assessment and the implications for the child or young person is available.


We can also provide follow-up therapy sessions to support both the family and the young person, regardless of the outcome of the assessment process.

Get in Touch

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like further information and details around the costings of an Autism Assessment.