This condition characterised by qualitative abnormalities of reciprocal social interaction and communication, together with a restricted, stereotyped repetitive repertoire of interests and activities. Within the spectrum, most adults with autism have normal or above average intelligence and the condition occurs predominantly in boys. In girls, the presentation is often more complex. There is a strong tendency for abnormalities to persist into adolescence and adult life although some social skills can be learned and abilities can improve over time. Depression and anxiety symptoms are often present. Autism is a clinical diagnosis that does not require further investigations for a definitive diagnosis unless there is a significant history of organic pathology (e.g. brain injury, epilepsy, family genetic disorders). However, it is common protocol in adults to complement a clinical diagnosis with collateral history from a family member using the Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI) and objective measures of autistic symptomatology as assessed with the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). There a number of psychological treatments available for ASD. Psychosocial interventions for the core symptoms of autism consist mainly in group-based or individually delivered social learning programmes focused on improving social interactions, managing difficulties with executive functioning such as coping with change, transitions, managing sensory sensitivities and sensory overload, understanding the diagnosis or managing interpersonal or family relationships. For adults with ASD and coexisting mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, adapted methods of delivering cognitive and behavioural interventions are often implemented. These approaches use a more concrete and structured approach with a greater use of written and visual information (which may include worksheets, thought bubbles, images and 'tool boxes'). They place greater emphasis on changing behaviour, rather than cognition, and using the behaviour as the starting point for intervention. Rules are made explicit and explained without excessive use of metaphor, ambiguity and hypothetical situations. The involvement of a family member, friend or partner is often helpful to support the implementation of an intervention. Adapted cognitive behavioural therapy may help to prevent further relapses, especially in relation to mood and anxiety problems. For example, CBT may be of help in understanding how depression, anxiety and rigidity in social interactions feed into each other.
The cost for an initial 1hr consultation is £450.
If there is a strong indication that the person may fulfil the criteria for ASD, a definitive diagnosis is established through ADOS and/or ADI assessment performed by a neuropsychologist.