Autism diagnosis in Oxfordshire
Please note that the information on this page is about the service for adults in Oxfordshire only from July 2018. Autism diagnostic assessments for children in Oxfordshire are usually undertaken by Community Paediatrics or CAMHS. Please ask your GP for more information.
What is autism?
Autism is a neurological condition affecting the physical form of the brain, and the way it operates or functions. This causes differences in the way a person thinks, perceives and understands the world and other people.
Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is used to describe the range of the autism spectrum, including Asperger’s syndrome (although recent changes to the classification system have resulted in the term Asperger Syndrome no longer being given as a new diagnosis). In a survey by the National Autistic Society, the majority of people on the autism spectrum preferred the term ‘autistic person’ rather than ‘person with autism’.
Autistic people of all ages experience difficulties or differences in communication, social interaction, thinking, decision making and in sensitivity of the 7 senses. The way autism impacts on each individual is unique. No two people are affected in exactly the same way.
Autistic people usually share a number of life experiences, such as:
- finding social situations difficult to deal with and understand
- lacking a ‘social instinct’, making it necessary to study and learn the social rules that non-autistic people seem to ‘just know’
- being misunderstood by others
- having in-depth knowledge about and/or extensive collection of one or more special interest(s), which can lead to specialist careers for some
- difficulty with interpreting what other people mean or intend
- being very good at noticing details, but perhaps not recognising the context in which the details fit together (sometimes called ‘the bigger picture’)
- difficulty in dealing with changes, small or large, especially when they are unexpected and not planned for
- finding it distressing when familiar routines cannot be followed
- extraordinarily high levels of anxiety and fear, especially about social situations
- hyper or hypo sensitivity to sight, hearing, smell, physical bodily feelings (including pain) , taste, balance, and proprioception
- a tendency to be very honest, sometimes with a lack of social niceties
- a feeling of being different from most other people, but perhaps not knowing why
Some people find that autism does not have a big impact on their lives. They may decide they do not need a diagnostic assessment.
For others it can mean life is extremely difficult. Some people want to find out whether or not they are autistic, and hope a diagnosis may lead to getting information and support to help with some of life’s challenges.
Eligibility for Oxfordshire Adult Autism Diagnostic Service (OAADS)
Adults registered with an Oxfordshire GP, can request a referral for an autism diagnostic assessment using the process below.
People registered with a GP outside of Oxfordshire should contact their GP to find out about assessments in their area.
The Oxfordshire Adult Autism Diagnostic Service is NOT open to adults who are under the care of:
- an adult mental health team (AMHT) or
- a community learning disability team (CLDT).
In these cases, please contact the AMHT or CLDT for advice on autism diagnostic assessments.
Referral – the Process
Referral for an autism diagnostic assessment should preferably be through your GP, or you can refer yourself. Please follow these steps:
- Complete our online Autism Diagnostic Referral Service Client Information form or download a copy here. Complete the form as best you can – you may want to ask a family member, friend or supporter to help.
You can request a printed copy of the Client Information form to be sent to you by post – please contact: Tel: 01235 359388 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communicating via Email – if you wish to communicate via email, please ensure you complete the relevant part of the Client Information Form.
- Make an appointment to see your GP to discuss having an autism diagnostic assessment. Take with you these documents to assist the referral:
- Completed Client Information form
- Any online questionnaires that you may have completed
- Notes or a list of why you think you might be autistic
- Any other relevant information or reports
You can take someone with you to the GP appointment if you wish. At the appointment your GP will discuss some or all of these with you:
- Your reasons for requesting a referral, possibly including a little about your developmental history
- Any difficulties you may be experiencing
- He/she may complete a short questionnaire called an AQ-10 with you. This may help the GP decide if a referral is appropriate.
If your GP decides that an autism diagnostic assessment is appropriate he/she will write a referral letter, enclosing your Client Information form.
The Diagnostic Assessment
Before the assessment takes place Autism at Kingwood will send some additional questionnaires for you to complete. These will help them to plan your assessment. Once they have received your completed questionnaires, the information will be reviewed and you will receive an appointment for an assessment if the referral is appropriate, or an explanation why it is not felt to be appropriate.
You will have a choice of having an assessment online with Healios or in a face to face setting in Oxfordshire.
An autism assessment involves finding out about your current difficulties but also about what you were like as a child. Any information you still have from your childhood such as reports from health or education professionals, school reports and photos will be helpful. It is very helpful if a parent or someone who knew you very well as a child can take part in the assessment process if you agree to this. Please let us know if your parent will be attending.
After the Assessment
You will be offered a follow-up appointment to find out about the result of the assessment, and what help might be available to you. Some local organisations offer support. See Support in Oxfordshire after Adult Autism Diagnosis.
The service will write to you and usually your GP after the follow-up appointment with a report of the assessment and the outcome.
Unless you request otherwise, only your GP will be informed about your referral for assessment or the outcome. The only exception to this might be if there were concerns about your safety or the safety of others. In that case, the appropriate safeguarding authorities may be informed.
Autism at Kingwood will manage and handle information we need to hold about you in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the General Data Protection Regulation 2018.
Autism at Kingwood is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office under Data Protection number Z1003590
Questions – Contact Details
If you have questions about Adult Autism Diagnosis in Oxfordshire, please contact:
Oxfordshire Adult Autism Diagnostic Service
Autism at Kingwood
Oxon OX11 8XD
Tel: 01235 359388 or Email: email@example.com
Information for GPs
The referral process and information for GP’s are currently being updated. In the meantime, please ask patients to complete the online Referral Form found on the website.