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How do online autism assessments work?

24 February 2022

For most people, the word “autism” isn’t totally unfamiliar. But we often don’t learn what autism really means until we or someone we know is referred for an in-person or online autism assessment.

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects more than 1% of the population. There are currently around 700,000 autistic people living in the UK. Autism is not an illness or disease. It does not need to be cured. But it does impact how people communicate and interact with the world, which can make some aspects of life more challenging.

If your child is autistic, receiving a diagnosis could help them and those around them to better understand their behaviour and create an environment in which they can thrive. It could also help to ensure they receive any assistance they need at school or in other educational settings.

Finding the right support for an autistic child or young person isn’t always easy, but it is hugely important. An autism assessment is an essential part of that journey.

 

What are the signs of autism?

 

Because autism is a spectrum condition, it impacts different people in different ways. Your child may be referred for an autism assessment because you or someone in their life has noticed some of the following behaviours:

  • They find talking to or spending time with others difficult
  • They don’t seem to understand what other people are thinking or feeling
  • They repeat the same behaviours or movements over and over
  • They sometimes find noise, taste, smell or touch hard to cope with
  • They become very distressed when small changes happen unexpectedly
  • They have a very intense interest in a particular subject or activity

 

Accessing autism assessments at Healios

 

Healios provides online autism assessments for children and young people aged between seven and 25. We work in partnership with NHS services throughout the UK, including CAMHS and other services that refer children and young people for mental health, autism and ADHD support.

If Healios is available in your area, your local service may refer your child to us for an online autism assessment. Once we receive that referral, we’ll be in touch to schedule an autism assessment for your child.

 

What is an online autism assessment?

 

Online autism assessments (also called virtual autism assessments) follow a similar structure to in-person assessments but take place over a series of video calls rather than in a clinic.

At Healios, we use gold-standard diagnostic tools (ADOS and ADI-R) to ensure your child’s online autism assessment is of the highest quality. Our experienced clinicians will carry out your child’s assessment using our digital platform, Panacea. With Panacea, you can chat with clinicians over video, view session notes, manage appointments and ask family members to join sessions.

Online autism assessments have a number of benefits. They can be attended from a space where your child feels comfortable, therefore the stress of travelling to and spending time in an unfamiliar place is avoided and your clinician may be able to get a more accurate view of how your child typically behaves. Because our team includes more than 220 registered clinicians, we can provide quick access to assessments, with most children and young people being seen within two months of referral.

 

How do online autism assessments work at Healios?

Step 1: Complete questionnaires

We’ll ask you to complete a couple of online questionnaires before your child’s assessment so we can get a better understanding of their needs. With your permission, we may also ask your child’s school to fill in a questionnaire.

Step 2: Attend sessions

Online autism assessments at Healios involve three key appointments: an initial assessment, an observation session and a parent/guardian interview.

You’ll meet your clinician for the first time during the initial assessment. They’ll explain how autism assessments at Healios work, listen to any concerns you have and ask some questions so they can get to know your child better.

Your child will then attend an observation session, which usually takes place on the same day as the initial assessment. During this appointment, the clinician will take your child through a set of activities to get a better understanding of how they interact with others. It’s worth noting that this is not a test. There is no right or wrong way to behave during an observation session. It’s simply an opportunity for the clinician to learn more about your child.

The parent/guardian interview involves a different clinician and usually happens around a week after the observation session. It is a chance to chat openly about your child’s behaviour and gives the clinician time to learn more about their educational, developmental and medical history so that they can provide an accurate assessment outcome.

Step 3: Receive outcome and discuss next steps

After your appointments, your clinicians will meet with a multidisciplinary team to discuss their findings and decide on an outcome. They will then create a report and call to let you know it’s ready. They will also arrange a feedback session with you to chat through their findings, discuss next steps and answer any questions you might have.

 

What happens next?

 

Receiving an autism diagnosis can have a big impact on everyday life. In some areas, where we have been contracted by the NHS to do so, we provide post-diagnostic support (also known as post-diagnostic intervention) for autistic children and young people.

If your child is referred for post-diagnostic support with Healios, you’ll be offered up to 10 weekly online sessions with a clinician. Each session will last for around 50 minutes and can be used to discuss any issues or concerns you have about their diagnosis and how it might impact everyday life.

If our post-diagnostic support service is not available in your area, you’ll receive information on other services that you might find helpful. The service that referred your child to Healios may also make recommendations about accessing other services if required.

Trying to organise an autism assessment for your child can be a worrying experience. At Healios, we aim to make this process as simple as possible. By choosing Healios as your child’s online autism assessment provider, you can ensure they receive life-enhancing care from compassionate clinicians within weeks of referral.

Want to find out more?