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In addition to diagnostic assessments, clinical assessments can be offered to children or adults as a way of investigating people’s current functioning using scientific psychological models. Such an assessment may be of use in instances where a diagnosis such as autism spectrum disorder has been received as part of a medical assessment, or to update the picture for someone who received a diagnosis at some time in the past.

Specific assessments can include using tests of intellectual functioning (such as current versions of the Wechsler scales: the WASI, WAIS or WISC) to investigate a person’s current level and pattern of cognitive skills. A more “culture-fair” test may be used for people who are unfamiliar with Western-style testing, or whose first language is not English.

Detailed cognitive testing may be accompanied by assessment of a person’s independence skills (also known as life skills, daily living skills, or adaptive behaviours). This is usually achieved via a comprehensive questionnaire (such as a current version of the ABAS).

Another use of cognitive testing is as part of an assessment of academic attainments (also known as achievements). This involves using a standardised test battery (a current version of the WIAT). Such an approach is useful in identifying differences or discrepancies between abilities and achievements, as might be found when a person has one or more specific learning disorders. Examples include a disorder of written expression (or dysgraphia), a reading disorder (or dyslexia), a mathematical disorder (or dyscalculia), or a language disorder (or dysphasia).

Other aspects of functioning that might be assessed include behaviour, mental health symptoms, sensory functioning, and symptoms of ADHD/ADD.

A “care pathway” might involve the following sequence of steps:

  • a meeting with the client/parent to discuss current concerns, and to plan and cost an appropriate psychological assessment;

  • collection of information through questionnaires, interview, observation and formal testing. Testing may need to be spread over several appointments for some clients;

  • the preparation of a written report illustrating the assessment findings and listing recommendations;

  • a follow-up session to discuss the findings, possible strategies, and other sources of help and information.

Outcomes and Feedback

You have done an excellent report … In fact it has actually ‘opened our eyes’ to the extent of his disabilities. I was beginning to think his [poor] hygiene and self-help skills were just laziness but he does truly struggle with these.”

Parent of adolescent son with ASD, ADHD and Learning Disabilities, April 2009

Thanks for your help we all really do value and appreciate it … Thanks (sometimes I can feel like I am losing the plot but this sort of information gives some hope!!)”

Parent of primary school-aged boy with ASD, ADHD, dyspraxia and specific learning disorders, June 2009 and January 2010


Fees for Clinical Assessments

Clinical psychological assessments (other than ASD diagnostic assessments) are charged on the basis of the likely psychological time needed. The amount of time, in terms of both face-to-face and indirect work, is discussed and agreed beforehand. Families will know what procedures are being used, the timescales, and costs prior to any work being undertaken.

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Peter Ludlow