For those seeking a formal diagnosis of Autism and in order to access certain services, an Autism assessment process may be necessary.
When assessing an individual for Autism, a number of tools can be used during the diagnostic process. Most practitioners will use a combination of the below, and will look for difficulties across a range of particular areas to confirm a diagnosis.
Many practitioners will use the DSM-V during the assessment process. If a diagnosis is present under the DSM-V, the diagnosis will be further specified into levels 1, 2, or 3 as below.
- Level 1 – Requiring Support
- Level 2 – Requiring Substantial Support
- Level 3 – Requiring Very Substantial Support
Getting an Assessment/Diagnosis for your Child
If you wish to get an Autism assessment/diagnosis for your child this can be acquired in two ways – Publicly through the HSE, or Privately through a private practitioner/organisation.
To have an assessment carried out through the HSE, a referral can be made by your GP, Public Health Nurse, Occupational Therapist, Speech and Language Therapist, Physiotherapist, Social Worker or any other health care professional. For children aged 0-6 a referral can be made to the Early Intervention Team in your local HSE area, or for Children aged 6-18 a referral can be made to the School Age Team in your local HSE area. The Early Intervention and School Age teams carry out multidisciplinary team assessments of children and families strengths and needs.
Referrals are accepted for those who are experiencing difficulty in their ability to function successfully across a variety of environments. This might include difficulties in at least two of the following areas: speech and language; motor skills; social interaction; making friends and managing feelings; learning new tasks.
If the Early Intervention or School Age team accepts the referral, you will be put on a waiting list for an assessment with that team. Unfortunately, the waiting time is likely to be long. You will be given an approximate wait time when you are added to the waiting list. Further information on the Disability Teams in your HSE area can be obtained by contacting your local Health Office.
Assessment of Need
You can also apply for the Assessment of Need if your child was born after the 1st of June 2002. This is an assessment carried out by the HSE for children or young people who may have a disability – please note this is not a diagnostic procedure.
Under the Assessment of Need guidelines, children will receive a brief preliminary team assessment. Following the preliminary assessment, if concerns are raised your child will be put on a waiting list with the Early Intervention Team or the School Age Team.
To apply for an Assessment of Need, contact your local Assessment Officer in your local Health Office and they will guide you through the application process. You can download the Assessment of Need form here and post it to your local Assessment Officer. Details can be seen at Assessment Officers – HSE.ie. You can also call your Local Health Office or the HSE information line on 1850 24 1850 to request a copy of the application form.
When your application is sent, you should receive a letter confirming receipt. Your Assessment Officer will contact you for more information about your child. They will look for information that will help to show the nature and level of difficulty experienced by your child. If your child needs an assessment, the Assessment Officer must arrange this referral within 3 months of receiving your completed application. Once this referral is made, there will be a further 3 months to assess your child and complete the Assessment Report. In some cases, there may be a delay. Your Assessment Officer will contact you to discuss any delay in the process.
As waiting lists through the HSE can be long, some parents/guardians choose to have their child assessed privately. It is recommended to get a referral letter from your GP or Public Health Nurse etc. Some of the private organisations will require one, while others may not.
We would advise that you contact the individual organisations in advance to ask about what is involved in their assessment process, waiting times, and any costs, as these may vary.
Before going ahead with a private assessment, it is also important to make sure that the assessments and diagnostic reports are accepted by the relevant Government bodies – such as the Department of Education, the HSE and the Dept. of Social Protection etc. to ensure that supports and services can be accessed post diagnosis.
Getting an Assessment/Diagnosis as an Adult
If you are over 18 years of age and would like to have an assessment for Autism, you can do so via the public system or through a private provider.
To access an Autism Assessment through the public system you can request a referral from your G.P. However, waiting times can be long for adult assessments, as there are very few practitioners to be referred to within the public system.
Many adults will choose to have an assessment carried out privately due to waiting times in the public system. There are a number of private providers offering adult assessments across the country and online. For further information on adult private assessments, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.