The Tasmanian Autism Diagnostic Service (TADS) is a team of allied health professionals including psychology and occupational therapy.
Our aim is to answer one question only: ‘Does the child have autism spectrum disorder?’
We are a state wide service and have dedicated clinics in Hobart and Devonport. The service regularly conducts assessments in Burnie, Launceston, and the east coast region of Tasmania.
Who do we see
- The service is provided for young people across Tasmania under 18 years of age.
- We specialise working with complex situations where there might be many things going on for the child or young person and their family.
How much does it cost?
- There is no charge for this service. This service is funded by the Department for Education, Children and Young People (DECYP).
Who can refer a child or young person?
- Referrals are accepted from a paediatrician, child/adolescent psychiatrist or psychologist.
What is the process for my child or young person to be assessed by TADS?
- A paediatrician, psychologist or psychiatrist submits a referral directly to TADS.
- Autism assessment and diagnosis includes a review of relevant information from various stakeholders, social assessment with the child or young person and a detailed interview with the parent, legal guardian or carer. We may also observe the child at school.
- A feedback session on the outcome of the assessment may occur in person or over the phone with the parent, legal guardian or carer.
- A report is provided that may include recommendations for referral to appropriate agencies and services as needed and includes some suggestions on supporting the child, young person and family.
What information is required prior to an assessment?
- A referral form (docx, 141KB) completed by a paediatrician, child/adolescent psychiatrist or psychologist
- Completion of the TADS parent/guardian/carer pack (docx, 215KB). This must include a signed consent to undertake the autism assessment.
- Completion of a TADS service provider questionnaire (docx, 134KB), usually undertaken by a teacher or day carer. (Service Provider Questionnaire Electronic Form/Printable Form) – a copy is also included in the parent/guardian pack.
- A letter from your paediatrician outlining social or behavioural concerns, including the results of any relevant medical or genetic tests if they are available.
- A copy of the most recent, if available:
- cognitive, developmental or adaptive assessment
- recent speech pathology or occupational therapy assessments if relevant
- relevant reports from other services.
Frequently asked questions for families
Does my child have to see a paediatrician?
- Yes, it is really important your child sees a paediatrician before meeting us.
- They may be able to tell you why they think your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) without seeing us.
- A paediatrician may consider other things going on for your child and because of this, they may be able to rule ASD out and refer you to other services that will better meet your child’s needs.
- While waiting to see TADS for the ASD assessment, the paediatrician may refer your child for further assessment and support.
- After the assessment with TADS, we recommend you go back to see your paediatrician to talk about the outcome. Your paediatrician will be able to look at how best to support your child in line with the suggestions we will have provided to you.
A psychologist wants to refer. Does my child still have to see a paediatrician?
- Yes, they do.
Why does TADS need a service provider questionnaire completed?
- It is important we obtain information from people who engage with your child. We want to know how they are socially with different people, both adults and children and how their interaction may be different depending on the environment, for example, in a classroom or at break time.
Who can fill out the service provider questionnaire?
- Generally, a teacher is a great person to complete the questionnaire. They will have seen how your child interacts with other adults and children in both structured and unstructured settings.
- A number of people can fill out a questionnaire each or they may want to work together on one questionnaire if that is easier for them.
- For young people in high school or college, you may want to ask a home group teacher, or a teacher who sees them in more unstructured classes, such as art.
- For younger children, if your child is in daycare or attends a playgroup, you can ask an educator who knows the child well to fill in the questionnaire.
- If your child has been seeing a practitioner regularly, such as an occupational therapist, speech pathologist or psychologist, you may want to also ask them to complete the questionnaire.
- Don’t worry if they struggle to fill out all the questions. We appreciate the information they have. The questionnaire is an important part of the assessment, and we will follow up with them, with your consent, if we need to ask more questions.
My child doesn’t attend school. I don’t have anyone to complete the questionnaire. What do I do?
- Send TADS an email or give us a call. We will work with you to think about who may be able to provide us with the information.
The assessment and interview process
What happens in the social assessment for children or young people?
- We undertake a social assessment with the child or young person. The team uses the Autism Diagnostic Assessment Schedule (ADOS).
- The assessment generally lasts about 45 minutes to an hour.
- Children who are not speaking yet or have limited language will be accompanied by their parent, legal guardian or carer.
- Children or young people with fluent language may attend the social assessment by themselves.
- During the social assessment we chat with the child or young person while we do a range of activities and games.
- For children with fluent language, we will ask about their social relationships, such as friendships.
What do I tell my child or young person about the social assessment?
- You can tell them we will be doing some fun activities and having a chat about what is important to them.
- There are no tests. The focus is on having a chat and getting to know them.
- Don’t worry if you think your child or young person won’t talk much in the session. We are good at encouraging reluctant children and young people to engage with us.
Do I give my child their medication before the social assessment?
- Yes. Please continue to give your child their medication as you normally do.
What do I need to know about the parent interview?
- The interview usually lasts for about 2-2.5 hours.
- The child or young person is not present during the interview.
- In the interview we will talk about the concerns you have for your child
- We will focus on social difficulties the child or young person has with their families, peers and others and, also ask you questions about their interests and behaviours.
- There will be many questions asking you to think about your child when they were younger around 4-5 years old.
What do I need to bring to the parent interview?
- You don’t need to bring anything at all.
- During the interview we will ask you a lot of questions to get a clear picture about what is happening in your child’s life.
- If you have received recent reports, please email them to us before the appointment. This gives us a chance to read them before you arrive and have a more detailed idea of your child’s needs.
- As the interview is a long one, feel free to bring food and a drink.
When will I know the outcome of the assessment and when will I get the report?
- We will often be able to speak with you about the outcome of the assessment within a week of us seeing your child. We do this in a feedback session.
- Sometimes, we need to take a little bit longer to work through things. If that is the case, we will speak with you, so you are kept in the loop.
- At any stage, if you want to know where we are up to, please do not hesitate to contact us.
- The feedback session can occur in person or over the phone.
- During feedback, we talk with you about the outcome of the assessment and suggestions to meet the child’s needs. This includes information on relevant services, if a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is confirmed or not.
- The feedback session usually lasts approximately 45 minutes.
What happens after the feedback session?
- After the feedback session, a report is given to:
- the parent/legal guardian/carer
- copies are generally provided to the referrer too, according to parental consent.
- We strongly encourage you to arrange a meeting with your child’s school and those who have ongoing care for your child, such as a general practitioner to discuss the outcome of the assessment.
Resources for referrers (practitioners), service providers (teachers/educators/allied health professionals/occupational therapists) and parents, guardians and carers.
Parent / guardian / carer
If you have any questions, please contact us.
Phone: (03) 6166 1100
Fax: (03) 6173 0439
Postal Address: GPO Box 169, HOBART TAS 7001