Here is my second instalment of posts my series of posts on Autism that I have been working on leading up to World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month in April. For this post I want to cover Assessment. I have written on this before … but after speaking with more people I have got some updated information … So I hope that this will be useful.
Time for an Assessment
I know after you first here the words Autism or the Development Delay are days that events that you will not forget for the rest of your life. Many feel like it is a hit to the gut … and one that it is just impossible to get your breath again … don’t worry you will. But what you need to do is work on getting an assessment ASAP. This is the key to getting, if required, access to funding, access to services and treatment.
The reason for why you should get started on this ASAP is
- for government services they have waiting lists for everything. You have to wait to get diagnosed and then wait for access to services and treatment. The sooner you get on the lists the sooner you get diagnosed and then if appropriate access to treatment services.
- some funding expires when your child reaches certain ages. The Federal Government’s specific program for funding early intervention unfortunately is one of these. You will often hear this being referred to as FaHCSIA. More information below
Step 1 – Referral
Most assessment centres require a referral from a Paediatrician. This includes the Children’s Hospital and Private Centres. I have found from our experience that if you get a referral from to the Children’s Hospital that private centres will also accept the same referral.
Step 2 – Organising Assessment – Children’s Hospital at Westmead – Disability Specialist Unit
The Children’s Hospital only does assessments where the child is suspected of having a developmental delay. If this is the case … I would recommend that even if you look at going down the path of getting a private assessment I think that it is worthwhile getting an assessment done through the Children’s Hospital Westmead – Disability Specialist Unit. We found that they are knowledgeable and caring … and used different tests to the private assessment centre (Griffith’s Developmental Scale) and they have connections to the Department of Human Services, Ageing, Disability and Home Care that appear to be helpful rather than you having to fight that bureaucracy to find the right person.
What you need to do is call the Children’s Hospital and speak to someone in the Disability Services Unit. They will be able to tell you the nearest centre to your home. Once you speak with them and and give them a copy of your referral they will tell you whether they may be able to offer an assessment. If you are offered an assessment they will send you a long a very long questionnaire (20+ pages) that will ask you heaps of questions about their development. While it is a bit of a slog to get through, send it back ideally in a express post pack and keep the reference number. This way you can track and even have proof of delivery from the Australia Post website (http://www.auspost.com.au/track/).
Once you have submitted it you will be put on a waiting list for a date. You should receive the date within 6-8 weeks before your date. You will not be told this unless you ask and you will not be notified on the progress of your request unless they call with a date or if you call. They will call when you have a date and send out some paperwork before hand to help prepare you for what is going to happen. You will also get a call from a Case Worker before the date.
To give you an idea about our experiences and timelines.
- LittleMan 2010 – I had submitted our paperwork on 25th November 2009 and I had confirmation that they had received it on that date. When I called up in January 2010 I was told that he was on the waiting list for a date (~6 months) and it would be at best sometime in May. We ended up being lucky that someone cancelled and we saw them in February.
- AnotherChild 2012 – Paperwork submitted on 5th March 2012. Appointment for the 17th March (due to a cancellation)
Step 3 – Private Assessment
Depending on how old your child is Private assessment may be required due to their age. If your child is almost 6th … you want to get onto it ASAP and get a private assessment (that can sometimes be organised within a few weeks). I would recomend that you want a assessment completed t least 1 month before their 6th birthday to ensure access to FaHCSIA funding. There many private assessment options available but I have only experience with Lizard and Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT) . Both of these services cost about $1000. However Medicare and private health fund rebates are available.
- LittleMan 2010 – We used the Lizard Centre at Chatswood and found them to be very professional and we were able to get in for an assessment in only 3 weeks. They used 2 assessment tools – ADOS and ADI-R.
- AnotherChild 2012 – Using Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT). They are getting assessed this week. Very positive experience thus far but will update when complete.
Autism Spectrum Australia
02 8977 8300
1300 326 484
What to do while waiting Assessment
Early Days Workshops
The Early Days online workshops provide information on various topics related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They also help you build a personal plan that you can put into practice at home with your own child and family. The workshops have been developed to provide the latest evidence-based information about ASD and equip participants with some skills needed to promote their child’s early development.
Early Days workshops include topics on
- Building your resilience to stress
- Managing stress
- Supporting siblings
- Video modelling
Livvi’s Place is my favourite playground. It is at Timbrell Park on Henley Marine Drive at Five Dock and it is a “all abilities playground”. For more information read some of my early posts
Check out my posts on Navigating the Funding Maze posts
- Helping Children with Autism
- Carer Allowance and Health Care Card Concessions
- Medical Expenses Tax Offset
- Inclusion Support
- Health Insurance
- Family Assistance Fund
- Carer Adjustment Payment