Diagnosis Guide

A simple step-by-step guide to obtaining an assessment
for an ASD diagnosis in New Zealand.
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Following is a general step-by-step guide:

This process can vary between regions, depending upon your District Health Board.

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Select a step

01. Take an online test

If you suspect that your child may have ASD, you may like to take a screening test. The results are not a diagnosis, but they may help with your decision to seek a formal assessment. Only a qualified clinician can diagnose you.

Online tests leave out many things, including things that only a skilled diagnostician will be able to assess. All online tests can do is ask for your opinions about your child's behaviour.

Click here for an example of an ASD screening test: ASDetect.

 

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02. Meet with your Doctor (General Practitioner, GP)

If you suspect that your child may have ASD, a good first step is to have a discussion with your GP.  It would be helpful if your GP has an understanding of ASD. Consider taking along a copy of the “Does this person have ASD” quick cardas it may be a helpful guide when discussing your concerns. Have examples of your child’s behaviour ready and explain how this behaviour appears to relate to the characteristics listed in the quick card. Alternatively, you may like to refer to the characteristics of autism mentioned on this website.

Click here for a Ministry of Health and Education resource to help identify autism spectrum disorder: How is ASD diagnosed?

Click here for a the Ministry of Health New Zealand Autism Spectrum Guidelines

The above quick card “Does this person have ASD” is also available in the following languages: Maori, Cook Island Maori, Samoan and Tongan.

 

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03. ASD assessment referral

GPs are able to refer children to a developmental paediatrician or another qualified clinician for a publicly-funded (free) assessment for ASD. After discussing your concerns with your GP, request a referral for an assessment.

Referrals for public funded assessments can also be made by other health services, and education services, such as an early childhood teacher at your child’s kindergarten or day care centre.

 

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04. Assessment appointment (publically funded)

You will be contacted by the organisation you were referred to. This will vary depending on how your DHB works, but it may be a public hospital.  

You may be placed on a waiting list or provided with an appointment date, which could be weeks or months in the future. You may also be asked for further information before being offered an appointment. It can be helpful to have a letter from someone who knows your child outside of home who shares your concern.

 

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05. Select a qualified clinicial (private assessment)

Some families choose to seek a diagnosis privately. Qualified clinicians who can provide a diagnosis include ASD-experienced clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. You may like to ask your local Autism New Zealand Outreach Coordinator for a list of known clinicians in your area.

Once you have contacted the clinician, they will arrange a time with you for the assessment. Wait times and costs for these assessments vary.

 

 

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06. Assessment for ASD (provided by a qualified clinician)

The clinician may be a developmental paediatrician, child psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or perhaps a team of clinicians that could include a speech language therapist or occupational therapist. They will produce a report that outlines their findings and the diagnosis. The diagnosis provided may confirm autism or suggest another cause for the behaviour you observe. The content of the report is generally discussed with you prior to being sent through to your GP.

Reports prepared via a private diagnosis may not automatically be shared with your GP. You may like to ask who will have access to the report, and request they be sent a copy.

 

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07. Additional services referral

Depending on the conclusions in the report, you may be referred for additional services. These could include appointments with an Outreach Coordinator, a psychologist or psychiatrist, speech language therapy, or behavioural therapy. You can also self-refer to an Outreach Coordinator at Autism New Zealand. They will help you navigate information on autism, advise on the educational options, and suggest services available for you and your child.

To join Autism New Zealand click here to complete our new member form.

 

 

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Select a step

01. Take an online ASD test

If you suspect that you may have ASD, you may like to take a screening test. The results are not a diagnosis, but they may help with your decision to seek a formal assessment. Only a qualified clinician can diagnose you.

Online tests leave out many things, including things that only a skilled diagnostician will be able to assess. All online tests can do is ask for your opinions about your own behaviour.

See below for some examples of ASD screening tests:

 

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02. Meet with your GP (publicly-funded assessment)

If you would like to access a publicly funded assessment, you should book an appointment with your GP, to request a referral. If you are already seeing a specialist for other reasons, you may wish to raise the matter with them first.

It would be helpful if the GP you see has an understanding of ASD. Consider taking along a copy of the “does this person has ASD”  quick cardas it may be a helpful guide when discussing characteristics that you think apply to you. Alternatively, you may like to refer to the characteristics of autism mentioned on this website.

Your GP may be able to refer you to an ASD-experienced psychologist or psychiatrist. Otherwise they can send a referral to the appropriate local mental health service. Although autism is not a mental health condition, it can be diagnosed by psychologists or psychiatrists who work for the mental health service.

Click here for a Ministry of Health and Education resource to help identify autism spectrum disorder: How is ASD diagnosed?

Click here for a the Ministry of Health New Zealand Autism Spectrum Guidelines

The above quick card “Does this person have ASD” is also available in the following languages: Maori, Cook Island Maori, Samoan and Tongan.

 

 

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03. Select a qualified clinician (private assessment)

Some people prefer to seek an assessment for diagnosis through private assessment. Qualified clinicians who can provide diagnosis include ASD-experienced clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. You may like to ask your local Autism New Zealand Outreach Coordinator for a list of known clinicians in your area.

After you have made contact with the clinician you select, they will arrange a time with you for the assessment. Wait times for the assessments vary, and there will be a cost for private assessment.

 

 

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04. Assessment for ASD (provided by a qualified clinician)

The clinician may need to meet with you more than once to ask you questions and gather the information they need to form a diagnosis. They may want to speak with someone who has known you when you were a child. They will then produce a report that outlines their findings and the diagnosis. The diagnosis provided may confirm autism or provide another explanation for your experiences.

Reports prepared via a private diagnosis may not automatically be shared with your GP. You may like to ask who will have access to the report, and request they receive a copy.

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05. Additional services referral

Depending on the conclusions in the report, you may be referred for additional services. Services that may be offered could include appointments with an Outreach Coordinator, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist.

You can also self-refer to an Outreach Coordinator at Autism New Zealand. They will help you navigate information on autism and suggest services/support groups available for you and your family.

To join Autism New Zealand click here to complete our new member form.

 

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