This page answers some of the most frequently asked questions in regards to the Autistic Spectrum Condition services that we provide.
How long does it take to get a private diagnosis?
The time taken to receive a diagnosis will vary between clients due to factors such as waiting lists, staff diaries and client availability. When being assessed privately, the process will typically take about 6 to 10 weeks, from the date of the initial assessment until the end report and diagnosis are given.
Is the diagnostic process different for a private service compared to an NHS assessment?
The main difference will be that for an NHS diagnosis you require a GP referral, whereas for a private assessment you can self-refer. For the actual process for an ASC diagnosis, there would be no difference between NHS and private clients for adult assessments, and both routes will require the same assessments and individual appointments.
Are private diagnoses accepted and recognised universally?
Our Multidisciplinary private diagnosis is the gold standard when compared to NICE guidelines. It is alway advisable to check with your local service to make sure they are aware you that are thinking of getting a private diagnosis and that they will accept it. But of course this is optional and you may wish to keep it private.
Do private providers have ulterior motives?
No. Just as with NHS diagnoses, private clinicians follow NICE best practice guidelines and use multidisciplinary teams to provide clients with a reliable and valid diagnosis. In terms of our service, following your initial assessment, we will suggest whether or not a diagnosis is appropriate. We will only suggest that you consider going through the process if there is enough evidence to suggest that it may be beneficial for you.
Is there anything I can access whilst I wait for my/ my child’s diagnosis?
Due to the length of the waiting lists and the time that it can take to get a diagnosis, we offer community support sessions and group sessions around understanding ASC and skills to manage the condition day to day whilst waiting for a diagnosis (for adults). However, this is only for our NHS patients. In terms of our private patients, we can offer private psychology support sessions or we can direct you to any other relevant support that you can access elsewhere (for children).
Is a Statement/ EHC plan the same as a diagnosis?
No. An Education Health Care Plan (previously referred to as a Statement) is a plan assigning resources such as hours and money to an individual who has significant education or healthcare needs. This may mean for example, that a person is able to gain additional support at school or college to help them to manage. A diagnosis, on the other hand, is the outcome of the assessment process which determines whether or not a person meets the diagnostic criteria for an Autistic Spectrum Condition. We can input into EHC plans however we are usually instructed by schools to do this.
What are the pros and cons of a diagnosis?
An Autistic Spectrum Condition is something that you will have throughout your life. It is important to say that gaining a diagnosis will not necessarily cause any significant changes to a person, as they are still the person they have always been. However, what it can do is help a person to gain a better understanding of who they are, and why they find certain situations more difficult than other people. This is helpful both for the person with an ASC but also for people without ASC, to gain a better understanding as to how people view situations differently, and to think of what strategies are needed to help them to manage more effectively. Gaining a diagnosis can also be beneficial in that it allows people access to additional services and potential benefits that they can apply for to gain additional support.
One of the downsides to gaining a diagnosis is that not everybody has a good understanding of what an Autistic Spectrum Condition is, which means that there can still be some stigma surrounding this condition. At present, people with an Autistic Spectrum Condition have a much lower employment rate and may need additional support to help them to gain employment.
If I or my child receives a diagnosis on the NHS, can I still access get post-diagnosis support privately?
Yes, our service is able to provide support to help people with an existing diagnosis. This may be to help them to access training or support; or else to provide Psychology support to help a person to gain a better understanding of their condition, and to learn ways to help them to manage more effectively.
Why is it taking so long to get a diagnosis?
The diagnostic process for ASC involves 5 different appointments, including the Initial Assessment and feedback session, all of which take place over a number of weeks depending on available appointment dates for both the client and the clinicians. In terms of an NHS diagnosis the waiting list is often substantially longer, mainly due to the lack of funding being received for these appointments, and clients can expect to wait at least a year from their initial assessment to their diagnostic assessments. Private self funded assessments however are completed within 6-10 weeks.
Is it too late to get a diagnosis after a certain age?
It is never too late to get a diagnosis. A diagnosis can help to increase understanding and help you to work on any areas that you find challenging within your life. Learning about ASC and understanding any potential problems you might experience as a result of having the condition can help you at any age and any stage in life.
Are ASC and ADHD linked?
ASC and ADHD are linked in that, although their main factors are different, they do share some of the same symptoms and presenting issues. Additionally, people can be diagnosed with both at the same time, and it does appear that being diagnosed with either ASC or ADHD increases the likelihood of that person being diagnosed with the other. However, the two are separate conditions and so are only linked to some extent.
What happens after a diagnosis?
Following diagnosis, you will receive a comprehensive report with our recommendations for future support. We will either offer you further support with us, which could be either psychological support sessions, community support sessions, or group sessions; or we will refer you back to your GP with recommendations for further referrals; or we will recommend possible sources of support that you can seek for yourself.
What if I don’t agree with the diagnosis?
Our diagnostic assessment is undertaken with a multi-disciplinary team, following national guidelines as provided by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). We carry out a number of assessments in order to gain get the best possible understanding about a person’s current presentation and difficulties, across a range of settings. Based on the information collected at assessment the multi-disciplinary team compare this to the criteria as specified by the universally accepted International Classification of Diseases part 10 (ICD-10), in order to determine whether or not a person meets the diagnostic classification. We would not give a diagnosis unless a person fulfils the necessary criteria. It is possible to undergo the assessment process and not receive a diagnosis.
If you disagree with the diagnosis our clinical team provide it is always possible for you to get a second opinion, either by going back to your GP to see what help they can offer or by paying to get a private diagnosis elsewhere.
How can I make sense of the assessment scores/ diagnosis?
The final diagnostic report that you receive will provide an explanation of all the assessments that were carried out, and any scores that were given. This report will be explained to you verbally at the feedback session, where you will be able to ask any questions that you do not understand.
We will also discuss whether there is a need for any additional support, either from ourselves, or from other services in order to help you to manage.
How to cope with a diagnosis?
Once you receive a diagnosis with us there is further support available to learn how to deal with this. We can offer support groups to help you and significant others to understand your diagnosis; community support sessions to help with things such as getting into work and accessing benefits and individual Psychology support sessions to further help you improve your wellbeing.