How to prepare for autism assessment

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Understanding autism and its implications can be a transformative experience, not just for the individual concerned but also for their families and the communities they are part of. If you or a loved one is preparing for an autism assessment, it’s natural to have questions and concerns. Here at Oxford CBT, we offer quick and flexible access to evidence-based assessments by accredited therapists, ensuring that you are in capable and caring hands. Our commitment to the wellbeing of individuals and the community is underscored by our professional ethos and transparent approach. For comprehensive details about our autism assessment services, please visit our Autism Spectrum Disorder Testing and Diagnosis page.

Preparing for an autism assessment involves several key steps. The initial focus should be on understanding the symptoms and behaviours that have led to considering an assessment. In the following section, we will discuss how to carefully document these symptoms.

Write Down a List of Symptoms

The first essential step in preparing for an autism assessment is to meticulously document the symptoms or behaviours that have prompted you to seek an evaluation. Whether you’re an adult considering an assessment for yourself or a parent concerned about your child’s development, a comprehensive list of symptoms can be invaluable. At Oxford CBT, we find that an informed, well-prepared client often has a more constructive and enriching assessment experience.

Autism Diagnosis Checklist

Creating an autism diagnosis checklist can streamline the assessment process. This checklist will ideally include both major and subtle signs—everything from social challenges, communication difficulties, and repetitive behaviours, to nuances like sensitivity to sensory stimuli or specific interests. Such detailed information facilitates a more accurate diagnosis, enabling our accredited therapists to offer more targeted treatments and recommendations.

Here is a basic checklist of autism symptoms commonly considered during the diagnostic process. Keep in mind that the presence of these symptoms alone is not sufficient for a diagnosis of autism; an evaluation by qualified professionals is essential for an accurate diagnosis. Oxford CBT offers evidence-based assessments by accredited therapists to provide a comprehensive diagnosis.

Social Interaction:

  • Struggles with making and maintaining eye contact
  • Difficulty in forming and maintaining friendships
  • Limited or absent interest in sharing enjoyment, activities, or achievements with others
  • Lack of social or emotional reciprocity
  • Misinterprets social cues or body language


  • Delayed speech development or absence of speech
  • Difficulty in starting or sustaining a conversation
  • Repetitive use of language, phrases, or sounds
  • Lack of make-believe or social play
  • Challenges with understanding idiomatic expressions or humour

Repetitive Behaviours:

  • Adherence to specific routines or rituals
  • Preoccupation with specific topics or objects
  • Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, such as hand-flapping or twirling
  • Resistance to changes in routine or environment
  • Intense focus on details rather than the overall picture

Sensory Sensitivities:

  • Overreaction or underreaction to pain, light, sound, or textures
  • Unusual interest in sensory aspects of objects, such as their smell, taste, or feel
  • Discomfort or distress in noisy or crowded environments

Other Indicators:

  • Difficulty in understanding others’ feelings or expressing their own emotions
  • Inability to understand or engage in cooperative play
  • Exhibiting unusual patterns of distress or anxiety
  • Limited or absent pretend or imaginative play

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to seek professional advice. Oxford CBT provides quick, flexible access to evidence-based treatment and evaluations, ensuring that you receive a thorough assessment tailored to your individual needs.

Ask Family/Friends/Colleagues for Additional Observations

Sometimes, the symptoms of autism can manifest in ways that may not be obvious to the individual in question. Hence, it can be invaluable to solicit observations from close family, friends, or colleagues who interact with you (or your child) on a regular basis. These multiple perspectives can provide a richer, more rounded understanding of the situation and can be especially beneficial during the assessment process at Oxford CBT, where we deeply value the importance of nurturing relationships and community support in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions.

In the next section, we will delve into what to expect during an adult autism assessment, including the types of questions that might be asked and other important aspects of the evaluation process.

What Happens in an Adult Autism Assessment?

Entering the realm of autism assessment as an adult can indeed be a daunting experience. However, being prepared can lessen the anxiety and make the process more insightful. Oxford CBT places a strong emphasis on transparency and respect, ensuring that you’re not just a case, but a valued individual whose wellbeing matters to us. Here, we provide flexible access to evidence-based treatments tailored to your specific needs.

What Questions Are Asked in an Autism Assessment for Adults?

During the assessment, our accredited therapists will pose a series of questions aimed at understanding your social interaction, communication skills, thought patterns, and behaviours. These questions can range from your childhood experiences to your adult life, as autism is a developmental condition that affects individuals across their lifespan. These queries not only serve the diagnostic process but also allow us to build a comprehensive treatment plan if needed.

How Long Will the Assessment Take?

The length of an autism assessment can vary based on the individual and the complexity of the case. However, it’s safe to say that you should allocate a significant portion of your day for the evaluation. Oxford CBT prioritises thoroughness over speed, giving you the time you need to express yourself fully during the assessment.

Who Will Be Present?

Typically, the assessment will involve only you and the accredited therapist conducting the evaluation. We at Oxford CBT maintain a high standard of confidentiality, ensuring that the environment is as comfortable and as non-intrusive as possible.

Can I Bring Someone to Accompany Me?

If you’d prefer, you may bring a close family member or friend to accompany you. Some individuals find this provides an extra layer of comfort and support. However, it’s important to consult with your therapist in advance to confirm that this is acceptable for your particular assessment.

Having discussed adult autism assessments, we will next explore how to prepare for autism assessments in children, including what types of questions are typically asked and how best to get ready for this crucial step.

How to Prepare for Autism Assessment for Children

When it comes to the wellbeing of your child, nothing is more important than ensuring they receive the appropriate care and support they need. Autism assessments for children are both a delicate and crucial process that require careful preparation. Oxford CBT’s accredited therapists are highly experienced in paediatric assessments, offering a child-friendly environment that centres around the child’s comfort and wellbeing.

What Questions Are Asked in an Autism Assessment for Children?

The questions posed during an autism assessment for children are designed to gather information about your child’s social skills, communication abilities, interests, and behaviours. Questions may relate to how your child interacts with others, how they play, and whether they exhibit any repetitive behaviours. Our focus is to build a comprehensive understanding that enables a precise diagnosis and, where necessary, an evidence-based treatment plan tailored to your child’s needs.

Write Down a List of Symptoms

Just as with adults, creating a list of symptoms is a vital part of preparing for a child’s autism assessment. Document any behaviours, social challenges, or developmental delays you’ve observed in your child. This comprehensive list will serve as a valuable reference point during the assessment, aiding in a more accurate diagnosis.

Autism Diagnosis Checklist

Formulating an autism diagnosis checklist specific to your child can be a helpful tool. Include any social or communication challenges you’ve noticed, as well as any unusual behaviours or interests. Oxford CBT encourages parents to be as thorough as possible, as the more information gathered, the better equipped we are to provide targeted care. For a more detailed guide of what to consider, please refer to our advice regarding autism checklist examples for adults earlier in this article.

Talk to Your Child

If your child is old enough to understand, it can be beneficial to talk to them about the upcoming assessment. Ensure they know it’s a positive step, designed to help them in areas where they might be struggling. Your child’s emotional comfort is one of Oxford CBT’s foremost considerations.

Ask Teachers/Activity Leaders for Additional Observations

Additional insights from teachers or activity leaders who interact with your child can provide a fuller picture of your child’s behaviour in different settings. At Oxford CBT, we appreciate this multi-faceted approach, as it complements our commitment to nurturing relationships with the individuals we serve and the wider community.

Gather Your Child’s Developmental History

Collecting information about your child’s early developmental milestones can be crucial for the assessment. Details such as when your child started speaking, walking, or interacting with others can offer invaluable context during the evaluation. 

In the next section, we will discuss what typically happens during an autism assessment for children, including the duration of the assessment and who is likely to be present.

What Happens in an Autism Assessment for Children?

Understanding what takes place during the assessment can alleviate much of the apprehension associated with this crucial evaluation. At Oxford CBT, we aim to create a nurturing environment that upholds our core values of caring and professional conduct. Our primary goal is to serve the wellbeing of your child and family through a well-structured, evidence-based assessment.

How Long Will the Assessment Take?

The duration of a child’s autism assessment can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the child’s cooperation. Generally, you should prepare for the assessment to take a substantial part of the day. We at Oxford CBT believe in the importance of taking the time needed to conduct a comprehensive evaluation, avoiding any rush that could compromise the accuracy of the diagnosis.

Who Will Be Present?

Typically, the assessment will include the child and one or both parents or guardians. Additionally, an accredited therapist will conduct the assessment. Rest assured that our therapists are experienced in working with children and are trained to create a comfortable setting that eases the child’s experience.

Can I Accompany My Child During the Assessment?

Parents are not just welcome but are often encouraged to accompany their child during the assessment. Your presence can provide comfort and reassurance to the child, and it also offers the therapist additional insights into the child’s behaviours and interactions. This aligns with Oxford CBT’s focus on nurturing relationships, as we consider the family to be an integral part of the child’s wellbeing.

In the section that follows, we will answer some other common questions you may have about autism assessments, such as how private autism assessments compare with NHS evaluations, and what to expect after the assessment is complete.

Other Common Questions

Navigating the maze of autism assessments often brings up a range of questions. Being well-informed is integral to experiencing a smooth and constructive assessment process. At Oxford CBT, we value transparency and are committed to answering any queries you may have. Our focus is on ensuring you receive the evidence-based care that you or your loved one requires.

Are Private Autism Assessments the Same as NHS?

One frequent question concerns the difference between private autism assessments, such as those offered by Oxford CBT, and those provided by the NHS. While both aim to provide a thorough evaluation, private assessments often offer quicker, more flexible access to accredited therapists. Our commitment to prompt and tailored care ensures that you receive the support you need in a timely manner.

How to Get Tested for Autism as a Woman?

Autism in women and girls is often underdiagnosed, as it can manifest differently than it does in men and boys. If you’re a woman seeking an autism assessment, rest assured that our accredited therapists are trained to recognise the unique characteristics of autism in females, ensuring a comprehensive and sensitive evaluation.

Will I Get a Diagnosis During the Assessment?

Whether or not you will receive a diagnosis immediately following the assessment can vary. Often, the therapist will need time to review the information collected before confirming a diagnosis. However, Oxford CBT places a premium on communication and will ensure that you are informed as soon as a conclusion is reached.

What Will Happen After the Autism Assessment?

After the assessment is complete, the next steps can include a range of options based on the results. These could involve further diagnostic tests, treatment plans, or recommendations for additional support services. Whatever the outcome, Oxford CBT is committed to your ongoing care and wellbeing, providing evidence-based treatments by accredited therapists.

In our concluding section, we will summarise the key points to remember when preparing for an autism assessment, reinforcing our commitment to your wellbeing and mental health.


Preparing for an autism assessment can be a significant undertaking, laden with questions and concerns. Yet, this important step serves as the gateway to gaining a deeper understanding of you or your loved one’s unique mental and emotional landscape. Oxford CBT is here to accompany you through this journey, with our accredited therapists offering swift and flexible access to evidence-based assessments.

Our commitment extends beyond the diagnosis, aiming to serve your long-term wellbeing and that of the wider community. We adhere to a professional ethos that combines scientific rigour with a caring approach, always with an eye to nurturing enduring relationships with our clients, their families, and the communities we serve.

Whether you are an adult contemplating an assessment for yourself or a parent navigating this path on behalf of your child, the key lies in being well-prepared and well-informed. Oxford CBT is dedicated to providing the resources and support you need at every stage of this journey.

We hope this article has provided a comprehensive guide to preparing for an autism assessment, offering you the clarity and confidence needed to take this crucial step. Thank you for entrusting Oxford CBT with your mental health needs, please contact us if you would like to discuss further.

Author – Tom Murfitt

With over a decade’s experience in providing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Tom has worked in both the NHS and private sector to help adults and children to overcome a range of difficulties and improve their mental wellbeing. In addition to being an experienced CBT therapist, Tom is also an accredited Mindfulness teacher, providing courses locally, in businesses and schools. You can read more about Tom here

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