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Do you have difficulty with relationships, struggle with unexpected change or have a high sensitivity to light, sound, taste or smell? You might have noticed similar problems in someone close to you. These signs might indicate autism. Here we examine the condition and how to get help for it.

What is autism?

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a neuropsychiatric disability and diagnosis that affects social relationships, communication and behaviour.

It has not been established what causes autism, but a combination of genetic, neurological and environmental factors appear to play a role in its development.

There are different levels of severity depending on how much impact it has on one’s life, but each person with autism is unique. Here you can learn more about what the diagnosis may mean for you.

What set our therapist apart was her genuine empathy and personal insight. Not only did she possess a deep understanding of neurodiversity, but she also shared personal experiences that resonated with us, creating an instant connection and fostering a sense of trust!

Benedetta Osarenk


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How is an autism assessment carried out?

An assessment is a basic neuropsychiatric assessment of difficulties and strengths that identifies a person’s need for support and assistance. It involves interviews that identify symptoms in both childhood and adulthood. It looks at how these symptoms affect different areas of life such as study, work and relationships.

The assessment includes cognitive tests to get more information about current functioning. A relative is usually interviewed to get a clearer picture of what things were like in childhood.

The assessment is carried out by both a licensed psychologist and a doctor who is a specialist in psychiatry who collaborate in the diagnosis. You will meet with both of them during the assessment.

An assessment can be an important part of the journey towards deeper self-awareness and better psychological health. At Lavendla, we want to make it easy for you to get the right help and support.

Why should an autism assessment be carried out?

Often, people have considered their symptoms for a long time prior to reaching the point of an assessment. For a child, parents or the school may have noticed signs of concern. Adults may notice they function in a slightly different way and have had difficulties at school, work or in relationships. An assessment can provide several benefits and help you gain:

  • Understanding: Clarifying your situation to understand why some things may be more challenging for you.
  • Treatment plan: With a diagnosis, you and your healthcare team can make a plan for treatment. You can get help with social skills training and managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
  • Support: A diagnosis can give you access to resources and support that would otherwise not be available. In the UK, individuals with autism and their families may be eligible for certain disability benefits, such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for adults, or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for those unable to work due to their condition.

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Steps in an autism assessment

If you or a loved one exhibits these symptoms, the first step is to seek professional help. As it can be unclear what this means, we have produced an overview of how an autism assessment usually works:

  • Assessment by a specialist: A psychologist or psychiatrist will make an initial assessment.
  • Tests and interviews: These may include psychological cognitive tests and discussion with family members.
  • Diagnostic evaluation: An overall picture of your condition is made and a diagnosis is established.

Private assessment for autism

Finding out that you have an autism diagnosis can be an emotional experience, but it is also important to get the help you need. Here we go into a little more detail about what an assessment entails. With a simple and easy-to-understand guide, we aim to help make the difficult easier.

Step 1: Recognise the symptoms

Take note of the symptoms you are experiencing. These can include social difficulties, rigid routines, and feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks.

Step 2: Consult a licensed healthcare provider

The first and most important step is to seek professional help. A diagnosis of autism can only be made by a medical specialist, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. At Lavendla, we can help you make that connection.

Step 3: The autism assessment

After an initial assessment that suggests you may have autism, we can proceed with an assessment. This may include interviews, cognitive testing and discussions with family members. If the assessment involves children, the school is usually included in the assessment.


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Step 4: Diagnosis

If you are diagnosed with autism, you will receive confirmation in writing. The next step is to discuss interventions. These can vary from person to person, but usually include therapy and other support.

Step 5: Psychotherapy and support

Talk therapy can help you develop skills to manage the symptoms of autism. This includes social skills training, cognitive behavioural therapy and stress management.

Having a supportive network is important. Talk to family and friends and explain your situation to get the support you need. There may also be family meetings and training courses if those close to you want to learn more.

Step 6: Follow-up and adaptation

Regular follow-ups with your healthcare provider are essential to see how the treatment is working and if any adjustments need to be made.

How long does an autism assessment take?

An assessment takes about 8-20 hours and is usually completed within 2-3 months. If the assessment is for a child, it can take a little longer as the school gets included in the process.

Getting help without having to wait

At Lavendla, you don’t get put on a waiting list, simply book an introductory online session with one of our available therapists. If you or someone you know has lived with undiagnosed autism, it can be a tough journey. But remember, it’s never too late to seek help and get the care you need. The first step is to talk to a healthcare provider who can guide you through the assessment and diagnosis.

One step closer to an autism assessment

If you are seeking professional help for ADHD or other mental health problems, we have a network of experienced psychologists and therapists who can help you on your journey to better mental health. We believe the threshold for assessment and treatment should be low, so have made it easy to get in touch with a specialist through our website.


12 short questions about autism

What is autism?

Autism is a neuropsychiatric disability. It is characterized by impact on social relationships, sensory sensitivity and repetitive behaviour.

How is autism diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made by psychologists and psychiatrists specializing in neuropsychiatry through a comprehensive assessment. This may include interviews and cognitive tests.

What are the symptoms of autism?

Common symptoms include social difficulties with understanding and communication, repetitive behaviors with special interests, and having a sensory sensitivity to things like sound and light.

Is there any treatment for autism?

You can receive treatment for autism, which often focuses on social skills training and managing thoughts, feelings and needs in different situations. You are also entitled to support measures, for example at school. The type of intervention depends on the severity of the condition, with autism being divided into levels 1, 2 and 3, with 1 being the mildest.

Is autism hereditary?

Research shows that there is a genetic component to autism. If one parent is diagnosed, the risk of other family members having it increases.

How much does an autism assessment cost?

The cost of an autism assessment and treatment can vary depending on where you live and the type of care you seek. It usually costs around €30,000 for private care providers.

Does autism affect school work?

Yes, as autism affects concentration and behavior, it can be a challenge in the school environment. However, special education support can make a big difference.

Can you have ADHD and autism at the same time?

Yes, it is not uncommon to have both. If you think you do, you can have a neuropsychiatric assessment.

What can I do if I think I or my child has autism?

If you suspect autism, contact your healthcare provider for an initial assessment. From there, you can proceed with assessment and treatment if necessary.

Does autism differ between girls and boys?

Traditionally, boys have received more attention and girls have been underdiagnosed. For girls, special interests may include makeup and animals.

Can you have other psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression at the same time as autism?

It is possible to have co-morbidity with other conditions and it is also possible to receive psychological treatment for them.

What rights do you have if you are diagnosed with autism?

If you are diagnosed, you have the right to support, for example during schooling and studies. You also have the right to support at home and interventions via habilitation or the law on support and services for certain disabled people (LSS) based on your needs.

What help is available for autism?

After a diagnosis, it may be time to begin treatment. Here is further detailed information about the help available after an assessment.

Autism diagnosis

Firstly, it is vital to get a correct diagnosis. An evaluation should be carried out by a psychiatrist and psychologist. Read more about the assessment above.

Psychotherapy

Treatment for autism may include social skills training, in a group or individual setting. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is effective for managing thoughts, feelings and behaviours to improve your well-being. Lavandla’s psychologists offer this type of treatment.

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes can make a big difference in how you deal with symptoms. Psychologists or therapists provide support for maintaining routines such as:

  • Regular exercise
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Structured diet

Support and help

A good support system can make all the difference to your health. Family, friends and support groups give you an extra push it is needed. There are also charities and support groups that can help, including the National Autistic Society.

Beginning treatment can seem daunting, so a good first step can be to have a conversation with a psychologist or therapist. Lavendla makes it simple to book an introductory online session with one of our expert team. We help make the difficult easier.

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Written by dominic

Dominic is a Cape Town-based copywriter and editor with a background in psychology.