Not all professionals can
Firstly, it’s important not to assume that all professionals can assess autism – only autism specialists and ones that have had specialist autism diagnostic training can carry out an autism diagnostic assessment. Other professionals may be able to give their opinion, but unless they are an autism diagnostician, they are not able to say definitively if someone does or doesn’t have an autism diagnosis.
Many don’t understand why a diagnosis can help
They may ask why would you want to “label” yourself/your child. Whenever someone asks this question, it’s clear they are not informed enough about the potential benefits having a diagnosis can bring.
Make sure you are referred to the right diagnostic service
It’s very important to make sure that you are on the right autism diagnostic pathway. Sometimes speaking to a teacher at school or to your GP doesn’t always result in the appropriate referral for an autism assessment.
If you have been referred to the right service, there can be a long waiting list.
Private assessments have significantly less waiting time but can cost £2000 upwards. This may be an option for some, but not for many.
CHECKLIST – What you can do:
Make sure you have the right referral to the appropriate autism diagnostic service – if you’ve had a referral and are not sure, contact them to double check they can formally assess for autism.
If you haven’t had the right referral, you can go back to your GP and push for them to make sure you have a referral to an autism diagnostic service. Advise them that you know the only way of knowing for sure if someone has an autism diagnosis, is for them to have a formal diagnostic assessment for autism.
If you’re having issues with a particular GP, ask to see another one. It could be useful to request to see a GP with experience and a good understanding of autism.
If you feel it helps, speak to your GP with someone that can go with you for support. Sometimes some surgeries can offer you the last appointment so you don’t feel as rushed.
If you are an adult living in England, you can advise that you know under the Autism Act 2009, you have a right to have a clear pathway for an autism assessment. This is a legal right, so if a GP or your Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) deny you a referral, you can advise them you know this to be your legal right.
This only applies to adults, but very soon children will be added to the Autism Act legislation.
Until then, you can use the NICE guidelines to show the GP that you know the pathway for an autism diagnosis.