The word ‘diagnosis’ means ‘through knowledge’. Accurate diagnosis is the key that unlocks pathways to appropriate intervention.
We offer a range of specialist diagnostic and assessment services for children, young people and adults. We make use of the recommended international assessment measures such as the DISCO, the ADI-R, DIVA, and the ADOS-2, alongside various screening measures and tools. Information elicited during these assessments is combined with the information we are able to collect from various other sources and from across diverse contexts in order to compile as accurate a picture as possible of development and functioning across the person’s lifespan.
In our clinical work, the primary purpose is to facilitate an understanding of the pattern, over time, of the specific skills and impairments that underlie overt behaviour. This type of dimensional approach to clinical description helps sharply identify those areas in which intervention is most needed and provides insight into what might be the most useful intervention. It also identifies strengths and competencies, pointing to areas in which the individual’s engagement should be encouraged, and a career perhaps sought out.
Two of our most frequently used neurodevelopmental screenings include:
The Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO): The DISCO was developed for use at The Centre for Social and Communication Disorders in the United Kingdom, by Dr Lorna Wing and Dr Judith Gould, as both a clinical and a research instrument. There is no single specific physical or psychological test for any of the autism(s) or as is referred to in the relevant diagnostic manuals, the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). In order to recognize and identify the impairments of social interaction, social communication and social imagination, together with the associated routines, ‘rigidities’ and repetitive behaviours, and all the other features that can be found in autism, information must be collected in a systematic way. This is achieved by using the DISCO, a detailed, semi-structured interview. Many neurodevelopmental conditions, for example, the autisms, can only be identified through an investigation of behaviour, both in the past and the present. The DISCO is a comprehensive aid to ensuring as much relevant and helpful information is collected in a thorough manner, from the person(s) who know(s) the individual best; this might include the child or adult themselves.
The DISCO framework is used to collect information concerning all aspects of the individual’s skills, deficits and untypical behaviour, not just the features of possible ASDs. In this regard, it also makes it possible for the clinician to develop a picture around additional or overlapping neurodevelopmental problems that may be present such as attention differences, Tourette’s Syndrome, learning differences and abilities, and co-ordination struggles. The DISCO is designed to elicit not just a diagnosis but also a comprehensive picture of the whole individual, through the story of their development and behaviour, both past and present, and thereby to collate information that assists in identifying and describing some of the qualitative social challenges, developmental delays and other developmental information that helps to provide a broad and detailed idiosyncratic profile or spectrum of the individual’s skills and areas of challenge or need. Information from infancy and childhood – both relating to unusual or untypical features, as well as information regarding current skills and unusual behaviours, is collected and considered.
The ADOS-2 (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule- Second Edition): An activity and play-based assessment administered by trained clinicians to observe social and communication skills.
A cognitive assessment is performed to gain an understanding of an individual or student’s current cognitive and/or intellectual abilities. Information derived from such testing is useful in guiding school readiness and school placement, understanding career options, and/or as part of a holistic diagnostic assessment.
Scholastic assessments help determine a student’s current scholastic abilities as well as assist in identifying learning differences or barriers to learning. Scholastic assessments may include the measurement of reading comprehension, basic reading skills, phonemic decoding, spelling, mathematics, and writing.
Together, cognitive and scholastic assessments are useful in identifying specific learning disorders and any learning differences a student may experience. Results from these assessments help guide classroom-based support and remedial intervention, as well as any concessions and accommodations that may be needed for exams at school or tertiary educational institutions according to departmental or curricula guidelines. We offer assessments in alignment with the IEB, Cambridge, Impaq, and WCED examination bodies.
The Neurodiversity Centre offers both subject choice and career guidance assessments. These assessments include the measurement of aptitude, interest, personality, and values. These assessments are useful in planning subject choices for the Grade 10 academic year and/or provide insight into the individual’s possible career options or trajectories.
Our workplace and occupational service aims to assist young people and adults with all matters relating to career progression. Interventions seek to remove attitudinal barriers, help people connect meaningfully with others, build confidence and resilience in the workplace, support any communication barriers, and ensure inclusion in society. Neurodiverse individuals make excellent employees, and mindful accommodations can help them to reach this potential. We can also work with employers or line managers to draw up meaningful support plans to enhance a neurodiverse employee’s unique strengths. This can increase work satisfaction and productivity.
Formally incorporated paediatricians and developmental paediatricians assist in detecting any developmental delays in an infant or child, finding potential causes, and planning appropriate interventions.
Paediatric neurology entails diagnosing and treating conditions of the brain and neurological system in children.
Psychiatry is a medical speciality dedicated to diagnosing, treating and preventing mental conditions. Psychiatrists also help support the co-occurring mood, anxiety, eating, learning, and behavioural difficulties that can affect people with a neurodevelopmental diagnosis. Furthermore, Psychiatrists support the care pathways for transgender clients and their families.
Occupational therapy is a client-centred health profession concerned with helping a person participate in all everyday life activities. OTs help with learning strategies, sensory integration, play skills, and self-care. In adulthood, OTs might help with aspects such as building resilience, coping tools, sensory profiling, and support with strategies to improve performance and remove stress in the workplace.
Specialist psychologists are available to assist with any issues related to discrimination, decision-making, family care, and disciplinary matters involving the law or the courts in the context of neurodevelopmental conditions.