Adult ASD diagnostic & treatment clinic
Assessment procedure includes a diagnostic interview that developmentally explores all DSM-5 criteria for ASD. As ASD is a developmental disorder we need to show that the issues have always been present (from early childhood), rather than just arising from trauma, anxiety or another psychological condition. The interview will explore:
- Social issues: Problems in social-emotional reciprocity, issues in nonverbal communication & deficits in developing and maintaining social relationships.
- Restrictive patterns of behaviour: Issues with repetitive motor movements, inflexibility with routines, fixated interests and hyper/hypo-sensitivities.
- Review of other comorbidities and processing problems (may incur additional testing if issues reported)
Level of social, occupational or other impairmentDuration: Usually 2 hours, however can be longer if additional diagnoses need considering. Usually within the session a diagnosis can be confirmed or ruled out. In some exceptional cases additional evidence may need to be collected, in which case an additional session may be required.
Cost of adult ASD assessment:
Diagnostic interview, questionnaires & report: $570.
Note: A $100 deposit is required to secure your assessment date, and this amount is non-refundable as it includes the costs of the questionnaires as well as reserving a 2 hour time slot with one of our psychologists. Please make sure that you are committed to having an appointment as this cannot be refunded if you change your mind.
We offer a range of different types of therapy for people who have been diagnosed as falling on the Autism Spectrum:
Psychological therapy is aimed at treating any comorbid anxiety, depression, anger or frustration that is commonly seen in people with ASD. Particularly social anxiety is treated if present. We can also work upon certain behaviours such as fixations and issues with flexibility that significantly effect daily functioning. This is individualised according to the person’s needs and goals specified on the initial consultation. We are able to also offer couples counselling specific to ASD.
Social skill training:
This involves typical social skill training, as well as training in theory of mind (ie. understand things from others point of view). It will be individualised and may also include reading emotional expressions and body language, as well as general training in social conventions.
Many people on the spectrum have some significant emotional dysregulation that can also be treated via neurofeedback. Neurofeedback involves conducting a brain scan and understanding which areas of the brain are over- aroused (or even in some cased under-activated). We then train people to regulate their own brain waves. This can be particularly helpful for people on the spectrum who have explosive moods or severe anxiety, as this type of therapy treats from the neurophysiological (ie. brain perspective), changing the way the brain functions utilising principles of neuroplasticity.
Duration of therapy:
All therapy sessions are individualised according to the patient’s needs and goals that are set during the initial consultation
Cost of therapy:
Initial psychological consultation is $250. Follow-up consultations are $220 per session (approximately 1 hr). Medicare rebates available under a mental health treatment plan. Please contact your private health insurance to find out of you are specifically covered for psychology. For neurofeedback rebates are unavailable so we have discounted the sessions to $120-$150 per session (price dependent on time of day).
Note: Some people on the spectrum are able to access NDIS funding. It is noted that we can only take on NDIS patients that are self-managed for their therapy as NDIS only funds $179 per session and does not allow us to charge more than this cap. NDIS funded patients will need to contact providers who are able to charge under this cap and your NDIS plan manager will be able to give you a list of NDIS participants. The recommended rate for psychological therapy according to the Australian Psychological Society is $251 per hour. Whilst we aim to be as reasonable as possible in our costs, and come in well below the recommended Australian rate, the NDIS have placed the cap unfortunately out of reach for our clinic.
More about Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adults
Common issues in Adult ASD
People with ASD have a wide range of strengths, weaknesses, skills and difficulties. Common characteristics include:
Social Issues: People with ASD often have difficulty in forming friendships, communication difficulties (such as a tendency to take things literally), and an inability to understand social rules and body language. They are often seen to be weak in empathy.
Anxiety: Anxiety symptoms are very common in adults with ASD and issues coping with change and uncertainty are common.
Anger: Adults with ASD often get easily irritated with other people as they have a poor theory of mind and cannot easily understand why people do certain things. They can appear very judgemental and criticise others for stupidity if things are not done in the way that they think things should be done.
Depression: As adults with ASD get older and realise that they are somewhat different from others, they can feel like they don't fit in on this planet and often complain that they feel like "aliens"
Cognitive Flexibility: People with ASD often prefer routines and do not cope well with change
Strong obsessions: People with ASD often have strong areas of interest that they like to engage in or read about. They often like to talk to people about these areas and feel like they need to share this information, even if the other person is not interested.
Treatment options for adults with ASD:
At the SCDC we offer the following types of therapy to help address the needs of adults with ASD:
- Coping skills and resilience: coping with change and the anxiety it arouses
- Social skill training and couples counselling (if the person is struggling in a relationship)
- Anger & frustration management
- Psychological therapy to address emotional issues such as depression
- Improved cognitive flexibility
ASD & relationships
Some people with ASD can successfully maintain relationships, however this can be particularly challenging for both parties. A common issue is unfair distribution of household responsibilities. That is, the partner may start to do everything when it is just the two of them. However if they decide to have children, the partner may need practical and emotional support which the person with ASD may struggle to provide. When the partner becomes upset due to the lack of help, the person with ASD can be quite puzzled due to issues with theory of mind. Often things need to be discussed very explicitly with the person with ASD, and there is little point in assuming that the person with ASD will know what help is needed without being given explicit instructions. This can create tension. At the SCDC we have seen many cases where the adult’s diagnosis of ASD often follows their child’s diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. This can be extremely distressing to the partner who has to cope with both diagnoses simultaneously. Counselling, or joining a support group where they can talk with other people who face the same challenges, can be helpful.
ASD & Work
The government has funding to help people with ASD, and can also provide a range of specialist employment services. A person with ASD may find their job opportunities limited by their disability. It may help to choose a job that takes their issues into account, and maximises their strengths rather than their weaknesses.