Waiting for an assessment
It is likely that you will have a long wait for your assessment. This is because in recent years there has been an increased awareness of Autism and ADHD which has led to more requests for assessments, which has made our waiting times for assessment longer. We are sorry to make you wait, and understand that waiting can increase anxiety about an the process. Please note. if you have to cancel or rearrange your appointment for assessment there may be a further wait.
Preparing for your assessment
It is normal to feel anxious and overwhelmed by the prospect of meeting a new clinician and having an assessment. We don’t usually use the word 'normal' in our assessments but in terms of feeling anxious or worried that you won’t feel able to explain things, we understand that is what nearly everyone experiences. We will do our best to help you feel at ease and understood.
- The assessment can take up to three hours. This is because we talk about issues that may have affected or been important to you throughout your life.
- It is extremely helpful if you can identify someone who can talk about your early life either at the assessment or who can be contacted by email or phone. This could be a parent or older sibling, a long term partner or longstanding friend. There are a number of different reasons why you may not have a person that you can nominate to give this information, and we would like to reassure you that if that is the case, that is not a problem and we understand. It is difficult for us to advise how important it might be that you are able to identify a person to speak to about your life as it really varies from person to person. But the important thing is do not get worried or anxious about the process as we can discuss this further at the assessment.
- You are welcome to bring a friend, supporter or advocate to an appointment however it can be very difficult for children to be present at the assessment. There is nobody available to look after children or an appropriate space for them to wait and play so you will need to make alternative arrangement for their care whilst you are at the assessment.
- You are welcome to bring anything else that helps you feel comfortable and relaxed. Some people like to bring sensory items or familiar objects. You can also bring small snacks and drinks.
- Sometimes people prepare notes or bring photos – school records are very helpful. Anything that helps us to better understand how life has been for you.
- We usually complete an assessment in one session but if that is not possible we will discuss this when we meet. Sometimes we ask you to meet another colleague at a later date so that we can complete your assessment as fully as possible. This is because we are a multidisciplinary clinic and although we all have core skills and knowledge in neurodevelopmental conditions, we also have our own particular disciplines and clinical specialities and interests so sometimes it is very helpful to have another opinion from a colleague. Again, we will explain why if this is needed.
After the assessment
It is normal to feel very tired and find that your mood fluctuates for a while after an assessment, even if the outcome is what you really wanted and truly resonates with you. It is really important to be kind to yourself around this time and give yourself space and time to process this really important experience.
The assessment report
The report usually takes about four weeks to be written once your assessment is completed.
You will receive a report following your assessment and it will be sent to you and your GP. If you have a worker within Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust they will also receive a copy and the report will be uploaded to the Trust secure clinical notes system. This means that anyone who is involved in your care in the future will know about the assessment and what the outcome was (please note. people cannot access this information unless there is a clear clinical reason for them to do so, such as making sure you get the appropriate care for your needs).
The report may include any personal and private information which you share in the assessment. This is so we can explain how we made the decision about your diagnosis. We also need to record any risks or concerns we identify. If you are worried about this please let us know at the appointment and we can discuss what we will include in the report.
In some cases we might identify alternative (or additional) explanations for your difficulties and differences. There are a number of conditions that are commonly seen alongside Autism. Sometimes we may identify these conditions as part of our assessment. If one of these conditions is indicated in our assessment we will discuss this with you or may ask you to see a colleague.
Sometimes we identify other mental health needs that are not related to Autism. We will explain to you what we have noticed and agree what should happen next (for example, if you need to see a different service).
We are a diagnostic service
Unfortunately we are only commissioned to provide time-limited diagnostic assessment. We cannot offer ongoing support. After an assessment and diagnosis we will provide information about other local services that may help you in the future.
We are getting an increasing number of requests for further evidence in support of benefit claims or for educational plans etc. Unfortunately we have had to take the very difficult decision that we are unable to provide future supportive correspondence. We understand that this is frustrating but the number of demands is starting to impact upon our ability to provide assessments, which is our priority. You are able to submit a copy of your assessment report with any claim or application, now or in the future.
We are not able to respond urgently or in a crisis
Unfortunately we are a very small team and we are not able to respond urgently. If you or your patient have concerns about mental health or safety before or the assessment, contact your GP or mental health Lead Practitioner (if you have one).
You can also contact Mental Health Rapid Response Service (24 hour service) on 0300 304 0078.