Process for Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Children

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition which affects approximately 1 in 150 individuals in Australia.

Although Autism spectrum Disorder (ASD) is not uncommon in Australia, many children go undiagnosed which can lead to missed opportunities for early intervention and support that are crucial for their developmental progress and overall quality of life.

This clear and concise guide, tailored towards parents looking to better understand the process for diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children, demystifies the process of ASD diagnosis for children in Australia. By better understanding the process and framework of  ASD diagnosis, we aim to empower parents to seek the best care for their children to ensure they reach their full potential. 

Table of Contents

  • Recognising the Signs of ASD in Children
  • Initial Steps Towards Diagnosis
  • Assessment Process
  • Timeframe and Expectations
  • Cost Considerations
  • Navigating Post-Diagnosis
children counselling

Recognising the Signs of ASD in Children

Recognising the early signs of autism spectrum disorder in children is difficult, but a crucial first step towards diagnosis. Symptoms are unique to individuals, may be more pronounced in some children than others, and can present at different stages throughout development. Some of the most common symptoms and signs to look out for when assessing ASD in children include:

  • Challenges with social situations
  • Restricted eye contact
  • Speech or language difficulties
  • Repetitive or obsessive behaviours
  • Muted facial expressions and moods
  • Limited gestures when communicating
  • Indifference to other children
  • Lack of participation in social activities
  • Challenges adapting to new situations

If you notice one or more of these symptoms in your child, particularly in the context of their peers, then they could be exhibiting early signs of ASD. However, these symptoms are not exclusive to children with ASD. It’s therefore worth speaking to a mental health professional to identify the cause of these symptoms and learn how to manage them.  

Initial Steps Towards Diagnosis

A referral from a GP is not required for an autism assessment in Australia. In many cases, a parent is advised by a teacher, GP, speech pathologist, or paediatrician who may notice behaviours or patterns that warrant an autism assessment.

For parents who may be concerned about any of the above signs or symptoms of autism spectrum disorder in children, or who have received a referral or recommendation, you can book in with a qualified psychologist who will provide professional guidance and an autism assessment and diagnosis if required.

Autism Assessment Process

The autism assessment and diagnosis process for children is conducted by licensed and experienced psychologists who will perform developmental assessments and behavioural observations based on the age of your child.

There is no single test to diagnose ASD in children, instead, psychologists combine medical evaluations, comprehensive needs assessments, and standardised autism assessments such as ADOS-2, ABAS-3, ADI-R and MIGDAS to obtain a diagnosis.

Timeframe and Expectations

At New Vision Psychology, the ASD assessment process for children takes a total of 10 hours over four separate sessions and is intended to evaluate behavioural history and current functioning in a caring and empathetic way.

1st Session: Initial Consultation

  • Participants: Caregiver/Parents only
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Location: Any of our 5 clinics or Telehealth
  • Details: A preliminary consultation advising if formal assessment is necessary

2nd Session: Clinical Interview (ADI-R)

  • Participants: Caregiver/Parents only
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Location: Any of our 5 clinics or Telehealth
  • Details: A standardised interview used to diagnose autism and distinguish it from other developmental disorders.

3rd Session: Autism Assessment (ADOS-2)

  • Participants: Caregiver/Parents and Child
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Location: Sydney CBD or Castle Hill Clinic
  • Details: Standardised diagnostic tools are used to accurately assess ASD across age, developmental level & language skills.

4th Session: Psychologist Report

  • Participants: Psychologist only (child and parents/caregivers need not attend)
  • Duration: 6-7 hours
  • Description: The psychologist scores the assessments, interprets the results and prepares a report containing the diagnosis and recommendations. 

ASD Diagnosis Cost Considerations

Understanding the financial aspect of autism assessments is crucial for parents. At New Vision Psychology in Sydney, New South Wales, the assessment fees are structured as follows:

Initial Session: $260

Complete Diagnosis: $2,600, encompassing approximately 10 hours of interviews, observations, testing, scoring, interpretation, and report writing

Following the initial consultation, your psychologist will advise if a formal assessment is recommended, and you can choose to proceed from there. If you do proceed, the initial $260 fee will be deducted from the total $2,600 cost. 

Out of the total cost of $2,600, you can claim $278.70 from Medicare with a referral from a psychiatrist or paediatrician (if the child is under 13).

Navigating Post-Diagnosis

After diagnosis, a range of support services for children with autism spectrum disorder are provided. A combination of educational and behavioural strategies are recommended to support the development of children diagnosed with ASD.

Your child’s diagnosis will help you to understand their condition, as well as provide critical information for educators and healthcare professionals to create a tailored program for their needs.

Early intervention and support are crucial for your child’s developmental progress and quality of life. With the right information and support, parents can navigate this path more confidently and ensure that their children receive the care and assistance that they need to thrive.

To organise a professional ASD diagnosis, get in touch with us at 1300 001 778. 

Looking for a Psychologist near you?

New Vision Psychology can help.