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Exploring the intricate world of diagnosis can be challenging, but rest assured, you are not alone on this journey. We understand the challenges you might face, from recognising early symptoms to understanding the nuances of assessments and tests for autistic adults. These FAOs are designed to guide and support you through this intricate process. We're here to help answer your questions and provide clarity every step of the way.

For more detailed information about the types of assessments offered by Aspect, explore our Assessment Types page.

What are the early signs of autism?

Autism is a developmental condition that affects how a person thinks, feels, interacts with others, and experiences their environment. Every Autistic person is different to every other, this is why autism is described as a ‘spectrum’. Download this helpful factsheet that lists some early indicators and developmental milestones. However, it is important to note that no single indicator necessarily signals autism – usually, a child would present with several indicators from some of the following categories.

If you are concerned that your child may be showing early signs of autism, it is important that you consult with a qualified medical professional. This would be your General Practitioner and/or Paediatrician in the first instance*.

*If your medical professional suspects autism, it is possible for them to make a referral to Aspect Assessments. However, you do not need a referral to book an assessment.

I am concerned about my child’s development or suspect they might be Autistic. What should I do next?

If you have concerns about your child's development or suspect that your child might be Autistic, it is important that you consult with a qualified medical professional. This would be your General Practitioner, early childhood nurse and/or Paediatrician in the first instance.

For many families, the identification of a child’s developmental condition is a gradual process that occurs over many months or years. For some children, a clear diagnosis of a specific condition or disability (or multiple disabilities) is possible. For others, the diagnosis of a specific condition may not be possible or may be reliant on further tests and observations in future years.

If your child’s health care professional suspects that your child might be on the autism spectrum, we offer a range of support services that may help, which include Aspect Assessments.

Do I need a referral to get an assessment?

While a formal referral letter from a medical doctor is not required to access Aspect assessment services, it is helpful as it provides background information and assists in understanding whether there are medical causes or co-morbidities that may help to explain the behavioural presentation. It can also assist in informing future clinical care.

Please note that a referral letter from a private Paediatrician or Psychiatrist is required if you want to claim a Medicare rebate for the assessment.

What does Aspect charge for an Assessment? Can I use NDIS?

Consultation fees apply to Aspect Assessments. See our Fees Guide here.

The NDIS will not fund diagnostic assessments unless it has been directly requested by the NDIA. Review and Cognitive assessments can be funded in some circumstances and depends on your individual plan. Please contact your Local Area Coordinator to ensure you can claim the assessment fees.

When is payment of the assessment due?

As of January 2024, full payment is due 7 days before the assessment appointment. If payment is paid within 7 days of booking the appointment, then a 5% discount applies.

Does Aspect diagnose ADHD?

Our assessments focus on the assessment and diagnosis of autism. As part of this process we conduct a thorough history and gather a lot of information about a person’s skills and support needs. As part of this process we may identify traits and behaviours that could be indicative of ADHD. We can also administer screening questionnaires that provide further information about this. If we identify that ADHD could be part of the presentation for the person that we were assessing, we would discuss with them and refer on or diagnose as appropriate. As our autism assessments are not formal ADHD assessments, it may not be possible to determine whether someone meets formal criteria for ADHD without further ADHD specific testing.

Who will conduct the assessment, and where will it be conducted?

At Aspect, autism assessments and review assessments are conducted by Clinical Psychologists, Educational and Developmental Psychologists, and Neuropsychologists with experience and post-graduate training in the diagnosis of autism.

Aspect offers face-to-face autism assessments in Sydney in Chatswood and Baulkham Hills. We also offer assessments in Alstonville (northern NSW).

We are also able to conduct online assessments using a Telehealth delivery model to anyone living in Australia. Clients and their families can stay home and a clinician will conduct the assessment remotely via a digital device like a computer or tablet.

Please note, cognitive assessments can only be conducted in person.

What is the difference between a diagnostic assessment and a review? When are review assessments beneficial?

An autism or diagnostic assessment aims to determine whether someone is Autistic.

Review assessments are useful for individuals who have previously been diagnosed as Autistic, but are now wanting an updated assessment and additional information. They can provide important information that will be helpful in making decisions about work, further education or vocational studies.

What is a cognitive (IQ) assessment?

A cognitive assessment helps to determine an individual’s learning capability. It identifies cognitive strengths and weaknesses and can assist with the development of individualised support and learning plans.

What is a Telehealth Assessment

When will I know the result of the assessment?

The Aspect clinician conducting the assessment will usually give feedback about the outcome of the assessment on the day. When more information is required (e.g. from school or therapists), the clinician will ask for consent to speak with the appropriate people. Contacting the other informants may typically take one or two weeks, depending on their availability. The clinician will then call you to provide feedback and recommendations.

What will happen after the assessment?

A report is provided to the client/parents/carers as well as the referring agency/practitioner. The report includes recommendations and referral to appropriate agencies/service providers. Sometimes the report may be delayed if Aspect has not received feedback in a timely manner from preschool or school staff (when applicable).

What if I have further questions after I receive the report?

At the end of the feedback session, or upon receiving the written report, you may have further questions for the psychologist. If this is the case, you should always contact the clinician again, and have your queries addressed. Sometimes it can be hard to take in all of the information provided at once, so don't hesitate to contact the clinician if you need to.

Is there any benefit to being diagnosed?

For some people, receiving a diagnosis is beneficial in terms of understanding more about themselves and a part of their identity.

People of all ages may also seek support and services from the NDIS or through private health insurance* to assist with skills development. For example, some children may be eligible for early childhood supports, such as speech pathology and occupational therapy.

Individuals who receive an autism diagnosis often describe several positive outcomes:

  • Self-Awareness: Understanding being Autistic can clarify past challenges and differences, often bringing relief
  • Support Access: A diagnosis can lead to disability services, work accommodations, and other helpful resources
  • Self-Advocacy: Better self-knowledge enables individuals to express their needs more clearly
  • Community Connection: Meeting other Autistic individuals can provide a comforting sense of belonging
  • Pride in Identity: Recognising being Autistic can foster self-esteem and a positive self-image
  • Improved Healthcare: A formal diagnosis can help with more personalised and tailored medical and mental health care*

*Depends on your private healthcare provider.

Does Aspect Diagnose PDA - Pathological demand avoidance?

Pathological demand avoidance (PDA) is generally considered to be a subtype of autism that is characterised by an overwhelming need to resist or avoid demands, which can lead to sensory overload and “meltdowns” or “outbursts”. The PDA profile of autism is not defined in the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for autism and is not generally recognised as a standalone diagnosis in Australia. The DSM-5 is the most commonly used and accepted (e.g., for NDIS, schools, Centrelink etc.) criteria in Australia. It is also the criteria set out in the “National Guidelines for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism” (Autism CRC, 2018). In line with the National Guidelines, Aspect utilises the DSM-5 criteria. As such, we don’t diagnose or formally assess for PDA. However, given that PDA is a subtype of autism and we conduct a comprehensive assessment for autism, we are able to provide information about behaviours that someone is presenting with and so our assessment would capture behaviours commonly associated with the PDA profile.

What if english is not my first language?

An interpreter can be organised by Aspect which is included in the cost of the assessment.

What if I'm non-speaking, hearing or vision impaired?

In most cases, an assessment can be carried out but you will need to discuss this in more detail when booking your appointment. Please be sure to indicate any details/concerns when completing the assessment intake form.

Are autism testing and autism assessments the same thing?

Diagnosing autism can be difficult, because there is no single medical test – like a blood test – to assist with making a diagnosis. That’s why we prefer the phrase ‘assessment’, which more accurately describes the diagnosis process.

During assessments, trained Neuropsychologists and Clinical psychologists review an individual’s developmental history and behaviours in order to make a diagnosis.

What does ASD mean?

ASD is the acronym for autism spectrum disorder. At Aspect, we use the term autism rather than ASD. We also use the term ‘autistic person’ to recognise, affirm and validate that individual’s unique identity, value and worth. This umbrella term was created in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association, which is used by medical professionals in Australia.

For further information or to go on the waitlist:

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