Autism Diagnostic Services

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism (or Autism Spectrum Disorder) is a neurological developmental disorder. Autism is defined as deficits in social interactions, including verbal and nonverbal social skills (Social Communication) and unusual interests, repetitive behaviours and unusual responses to sensory experiences (Restricted Interests / Repetitive Behaviours).

Autism affects approximately 1.7% of Australians. Symptoms typically appear in infancy and become more noticeable around the ages of 2 or 3.

Autism may be attributed to numerous factors, and there is no known single cause.

What is an Autism Assessment?

Autism assessments – also known as diagnostic assessments – can determine whether someone has autism.

Our assessment services are delivered by a psychologist with experience and post-graduate training in the assessment and diagnosis of autism. We follow the “National Guidelines for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder”, and use gold standard assessment tools such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule -– Second Edition (ADOS-2) and the Autism Diagnostic Interview -– Revised (ADI-R).

All our assessments include a comprehensive report, which is provided within four to six weeks of the assessment date.

children playing with legos

Why is an Autism Assessment Useful?

Early detection of ASD can reduce the impact of developmental disorders and improve communication skills. It allows for planning and interventions to reduce its consequences.

The CDI provides both adult autism diagnosis and child autism diagnosis assessments for individuals across their lifespan. Our comprehensive assessment can identify developmental difficulties and determine what strategies and supports will assist a person to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.

They’re also useful for individuals who have previously been diagnosed with autism but are now wanting an updated assessment and additional information. These are also known as review assessments and are useful to help individuals with funding applications or support planning.


Why are there so many parts to an Autism Assessment?

There is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose autism spectrum disorder. Therefore, a clinical diagnosis is based on multiple sources of information, including direct observations. This means, observing the person in a structured clinical setting as well as in a community setting such as preschool or school. In addition to observations, the parents or caregivers are required to undergo a comprehensive clinical interview, and the psychologist will also gather further information about daily living activities from parents and teachers using a questionnaire.

Autism can present differently across individuals. However, there are key characteristics which are identified through the gold standard assessments used in a comprehensive autism assessment. Therefore, it is very important that the psychologist completes a full assessment.


What Does a Complete Autism Assessment Involve?

First Session: Initial Consultation (1hr)

During this session our Psychologist will gain an understanding of your child and will ask to see some video footage.  At the end of this session a recommendation will be made whether you progress to the full diagnostic assessment.

Second Session: Clinical Interview (ADI-R) (2-3 hrs)

This session is an interview with parents/caregiver only, it can be conducted via telehealth or in our rooms.

Third Session: Childcare / School Observation (1hr)

This session is only relevant to children who attend an education setting. Our Psychologist will observe your child in this setting to understand social interactions, attention, interests and behaviours.

Fourth Session: Autism Assessment (ADOS-2) (1 hr)

This is a standardised assessment observing your child in different tasks. It will occur at our Northern Beaches centre.

Fifth Session: Interpretive Meeting (1 hr)

2-3 weeks after the Autism Assessment, our Psychologist will meet with you to discuss the final diagnostic report and recommendations for treatment to support your child.

Autism Assessment Fees

Initial session: $240

The complete assessment process involves around 14-hours of interviews, observations, testing, scoring, interpretation and report writing.

If not all components of the complete diagnosis are required, this will be discussed prior to proceeding and a quotation will be provided.

Who will be delivering the Autism Assessment?

Halaina Winter

Halaina Winter is the Clinical Director of the Child Development Institute and a Registered Psychologist (Clinical Registrar). Halaina holds a Master of Clinical Psychology and has been formally trained in the delivery of the ADOS-2 and ADI-R.

Halaina has been working with people on the Autism spectrum for many years and holds Certification in Early Start Denver Model through the MIND Institute (UC Davis).

In addition to her broader clinical experience, this provides a strong foundation for understanding the differing ways Autism may present.

Halaina has an empathic and compassionate approach to all of her therapy clients and works with people exploring an autism diagnosis for either themselves or their child with care and respect for the journey they are on.