ASD is characterised by difficulties in 3 main areas – called the Triad of Impairment. The characteristics of autism vary from one person to another, but in order for a diagnosis to be made, a person will usually be assessed as having had persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests since early childhood, to the extent that these “limit and impair everyday functioning”.
Many young people with ASD traits manage fine within mainstream school and are just seen as “quirky”. For some though, the social communication difficulties create significant problems within school or other settings which may need some specific planning to help with.
Assessment of ASD
ASD is assessed by using a combination of questionnaire data, observational data and a full detailed developmental history. The NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) recommend that a full ASD assessment should include:
- A detailed account of parent/carers concerns, and child’s concerns
- Details of the child’s experiences of home life, education and social care
- A full developmental history, focusing on developmental and behavioural features consistent with the diagnostic features of ASD.
- Assessment (through interaction with and observation of the child or young person) of social and communication skills and behaviours.
- A medical history, including prenatal, perinatal and family history, and past and current health conditions
- Consideration of the differential diagnosis – is there any other developmental or mental health condition which may better account for the presenting difficulties.
- Systematic assessment for conditions that may coexist with autism.
- Develop a profile of the child’s or young person’s strengths, skills, impairments and needs that can be used to create a needs-based management plan, taking into account family and educational context
- communication of assessment findings to the parent or carer and, if appropriate, the child or young person.