Adult ASD diagnostic & treatment clinic

Adult Autism Spectrum Disorder

ADULT ASD ASSESSMENT (based on Autism CRC Australian Guidelines)

Our assessment follows the Australian national guidelines for Autism Spectrum Disorder assessment as outlined by Autism CRC.

An ASD assessment includes the follow steps:

  1. Booking & Questionnaires: Upon booking the patient (or caregiver) will be emailed a series of questionnaires for them to complete online. These forms should be completed as soon as possible or at the latest one week before the initial consultation is booked.
  2. General clinical interview: This initial consultation can be in clinic or done remotely via computer. It will be a review of full medical, developmental, educational, and mental health history. This assessment will involve review of full medical, developmental, educational and mental health history. Family history will be discussed so if you are unclear of current family history you may want to discuss this with family members prior to the consultation where possible. Some people may want to bring a parent or care-giver for this part of the consultation if there is an issues with memory or insight. Social and environment factors will be investigated, along with other potential differential diagnoses that may better account for the symptoms. Strengths will be considered in relation to how they inform needs. The clinician will then determine if a full assessment is required and if an associated GP review is required. For a small percentage of patients ASD can be ruled out at this stage as there are not enough clinical signs on interview or any of the questionnaires to warrant further investigations.

It is noted that whilst differential diagnoses and comorbid (co-occurring diagnoses) may be explored, it is unlikely at the assessment that the diagnosis of disorders other than ASD will be able to be made. In most cases, testing of other disorders will need to be done as part of additional assessment (eg. learning issues, ADHD, language disorders, intellectual disability, motor disorders, emotional or behavioural disorders, sensory processing disorder etc).

In the vast majority of patients a formal ASD assessment will be required and the following further steps take place:

  • Questionnaires: Further more detailed ASD questionnaires will be emailed to complete prior to the formal assessment day.
  • Formal ASD testing (approximately 3 hours): This will include administration of the ADOS-II as well as the MIGDAS ASD clinical interview. DSM-5 criteria will be thoroughly explored via clinical interview. This will include:
    • 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.
  • The results of this diagnostic consultation are then discussed with our Principal Clinical Neuropsychologist to determine the final diagnosis. 
  • Review with GP (if required by the clinician at the initial): The patient may need to undergo a review with their GP if there are any medical concerns, and we will provide a checklist to take to your GP. It is vital that the form is taken to the GP as not all GPs will be familiar with the latest requirements for ASD medical screening. The GP should complete the form and make referrals for additional testing (if needed).
  • Feedback session: Can be done remotely via Telehealth or in person (as preferred)

At this stage one of three outcomes will occur:

(A) A diagnosis will be ruled out. If this occurs, other potential diagnoses will be discussed and if needed, additional assessment into these areas recommended.

(B) If no further testing is needed by a medical professional, then a diagnosis can be confirmed. If this occurs we will discuss recommendations for therapy as well as discuss potential co-occurring disorders that may need further assessment and treatment.

(C) A diagnosis is unclear and further testing will be required. It is noted that sometimes in borderline or unclear cases it can be helpful to get information from caregivers, spouses or even children. In these cases with permission from the patient we will contact these peoples to gain additional information to clarify whether full diagnostic criteria is met. Please note that this may delay the report, hence, if you require the report by a certain date, please make sure you book well in advance.

  • Report: A report will then be prepared within approximately 3 weeks outlining the results, diagnosis, support needs, potential comorbidities (or potential differential diagnosis if a diagnosis is not conformed), along with recommendations and additional resources. This will be emailed out to you in approximately 3 weeks after your assessment.

The costs are:

Initial questionnaires & initial consultation: $400

If full assessment required: additional: $1200 

Total: $1600

Please Note: There is a $500 non-refundable deposit to pay for the initial consultation as well as $100 to secure your 3 hour testing day.

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
  • Neurofeedback (for patients with high levels of over-arousal such as anxiety and meltdowns, or comorbid ADHD)

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.