Who can diagnose?
It’s vital to get a full assessment and diagnosis from a qualified and reliable professional or team of professionals using proper assessment tools. A professional who is willing to rule in or rule out something like autism with only a cursory appointment is not following the recommended diagnostic protocol.
According to the NDIS autism should be diagnosed by “a specialist multi-disciplinary team, paediatrician, psychiatrist or clinical psychologist experienced in the assessment of Pervasive Developmental Disorders, and assessed using the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V)”
While the diagnostic criteria for autism under the DSM-5 are consistent across Australia, the diagnostic process has not been. In late 2018 the National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Australia was released. The guidelines aim to provide a consistent approach for autism assessment and diagnosis across the country, relieving stress, confusion and lengthy delays for individuals on the spectrum and their families.
So, where can you go for an assessment?
There are both government funded and private assessment services available. Wait times for government funded services can be quite lengthy (12 months +), so we recommend where possible not to wait and access the assessment services of a private centre or clinician. You’ll find a list of government funded assessment/diagnostic services by state here.
Your state-based autism association may also provide assessment services, or can point you in the direction of local clinics and services. We’ve listed the state-based autism organisations below.
State autism organisations
Adult assessment & diagnosis
For the purposes of funding, assessment and diagnosis of ASD in adults can be done by psychiatrists or clinical psychologists who are experts in autism.
Contact your state autism association to ask whether they can do assessments themselves or can assist you with finding an expert.
You could also visit your GP who can refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist, or use the Find A Psychologist section of the Australian Psychological Society website or Find A Psychiatrist section on the website of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ website.
As an Australian citizen you can also get some of the costs for your psychologist / psychiatrist visits covered under medicare. Ask you GP for a ‘Better Access to Mental Health care Plan’. Full details are here https://www.