'I usually say to the child, "Congratulations, you have autism' and explain that this means they are not mad, bad or defective, but they have a different way of thinking" Professor Toni Attwood

Autism is a wide and varied condition, no two cases are the same. Each young person has their strengths and difficulties and these are very individual. 

Young people may display the following characteristics - 

- difficulty making friends, difficulty keeping friends

- struggle to communicate and control emotions

- advanced vocabulary for their age but difficulty with conversational skills

- fascination with specific topics which can be intense

- unusual profile of learning abilities

- they may need some help with organisational skills

- sensitive to sound, smells, textures or touch.

Autism screening tool for 6-17 year olds.

Why pursue a diagnosis?

Without a diagnosis, when appropriate, the child's behaviour can often be misunderstood. They may be seen as rude or oppositional, and be given consequences within the school or home setting. They may be excluded by their peer group who don't understand them. They can go on to develop negative thoughts about themselves and become socially withdrawn in order to manage these difficult feelings.

They may retreat into a rich fantasy world, become depressed, spend lots of energy mimicking others, and socially masking their difficulties at the expense of gaining their full potential within the education setting.

If a diagnosis is pursued, it can give clarity and validation for the young person in terms of the difficulties. It can help them identify which aspects of life they find the most difficult and receive targeted and focused help and support.

Diagnosis allows them to manage their expectations about what they feel comfortable with and be able to say no to things too.

Having a diagnosis can have a positive impact on other peoples'understanding, leading to acceptance and providing the right sort of help. The risk of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment can be avoided.

A young person who understands themselves better, is more effective with regards to decision-making about friendships, careers and relationships and is a better self advocate.

A diagnosis can also bring a sense of belonging when meeting other families and young people who share the diagnosis.

Most of the young people that we see describe a sense of relief at the time of diagnosis. They have often spent large periods of time on the internet looking up symptoms for bipolar, psychosis, OCD and other concerning mental health difficulties, trying to work out what's is going on. When they find something that makes sense it allows the right help to be put in place for them and its good to feel understood.


The diagnostic assessment has three components, performed after an initial assessment appointment.

First part - ADOS autism diagnostic observation schedule this is a face-to-face one hour appointment conducted with one of our therapy team (nurse or OT or psychology) and the young person. This looks at a number of factors including their use of eye contact, social communication skills, gesture and imaginative play. 

Second part - 3Di an extensive neuro developmental questionnaire completed by parents. Pay for 3Di here

School questionnaire - to look at social communication issues and pick up difficulties within the school setting. (sent to you at same time as 3Di)

Taking all of this information together a diagnosis can be made when appropriate and recommendations made.

You will receive a full written report with recommendations for support and ongoing care.

Autistic Masking Screening tool - ages 16+


Many adults who meet diagnostic criteria for ASD may have been misdiagnosed with a different condition (perhaps OCD, social anxiety or depression) or they may have masked their difficulties and not found help.

There are potential benefits of a formal diagnosis such as employment and accommodation rights, increased self understanding, peace of mind and making sense of past personal experiences. A diagnosis may provide helpful information that allows better coping or quality of life by recognising strengths and difficulties. It can help others to understand you. 

These assessments are carried out in three parts.

The first part of the assessment is carried out by our psychiatrists. A full developmental and psychiatric history is taken. (£500)

The second part is a structured interview with the patient’s parent(s) or close relatives to enable a detailed review of their early development. This is called an ADI-R assessment and is completed with our psychologist. 

If it is not possible to interview somebody who knew you as a child (face to face or by telephone) we carry out an assessment called an ADOS which is a specialist interview lasting one hour.  This is done with any member of our therapy team.

A 3Di developmental questionnaire, with input from a family member or close relative. You can complete this at home.

A full written report will be provided for all patients, with recommendations for ongoing care and support. 

Autism Screening tool for 16+ and adults


Further useful information can be found here Royal College of psychiatrists Autism leaflet

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