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How do we Assess for Neurodevelopmental Disorders?


As you may or may not know, You Matter is a leader in providing assessments for adult neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; and Learning Disorders (such as dyslexia).

But what does that mean? The clinical interview is the first step in any assessment. Typically these last for an hour, and aside from discussing your reasons for wanting the assessment, your psychologist will ask detailed questions about your background; education history; mental health history; family; interests; relationships and so on. This allows us to paint a picture of what we think may be going on for you, so that we can tailor the assessment appropriately. The early developmental period is crucial to assessments of neurodevelopmental disorders so it is likely that your psychologist will ask to speak to a parent, sibling, or anyone else who knew you well as a child. It is important to note here that the rules of confidentiality apply, and your psychologist won't talk with anyone without your consent; nor will they discuss anything with others without your consent.


Next comes the cognitive testing. This looks at your brain functions in great detail: your executive functions; memory (short and long-term); processing speed; efficiency; quantitative reasoning and composite knowledge. Within these clusters are more specific functions (such as your capacity for attention versus your ability to sustain it). We then look at your academic abilities in detail (such as word reading, word decoding and reading comprehension), which is how we pick up on specific learning disorders (such as dyslexia). Another component is oral language, where we assess for expressive and receptive language difficulties (or language disorders). All up this component takes a minimum of two hours (ideally split over multiple days); but can take longer on occasion. This is something your psychologist will discuss with you, based on the clinical interview.


The final component of the assessment is the questionnaires. The point of these are to get subjective feedback on your presentation (such as whether others notice that you daydream a lot; if you come across as impulsive; or whether others see you have difficulties in social situations). The goal here is to again help paint the clinical picture. Commonly, but depending on your reason for assessment, there will be questionnaires looking at ADHD and Autism-specific symptoms; and others looking at emotional functioning (looking for anxiety and depression).


Once we have all the information returned, your psychologist will put it all together to determine what diagnoses, if any, are warranted. Sometimes the conclusions are clearly defined, and other times they are more complex. Either way, you will be provided with recommendations on how best to navigate your particular presentation. This is all be explained to you in a final feedback session, as well as a discussion around "where to from here", such as required referrals (i.e. to a psychiatrist or speech pathologist).


If you have been weighing up whether you may have an undiagnosed disorder, or would simply likely to get an understanding of your cognitive profile, give us a call on 3716 0445.


If you are interested in discussing any of the points further, we would be more than happy to hear from you. Feel free to send an email to admin@youmatterpsychologists.com.au and we will answer any questions you may have.

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