1. Is the assessment stressful?

Don’t worry – The process is not stressful. Contrary to beliefs an assessment is a relaxed process. It is your time to be heard. This usually comes as a huge relief.
Lighthouse Psychologists are all Chartered Consultant Adult, Adolescent and Child Psychologists. We will put you at ease from the moment you arrive. We are parents too and understand your worries.

2. Should I bring toys or activities??

Lighthouse does have toys, paints, etc but it is a good idea to bring along some of your child’s favourite activities to the assessment. That way, children will be absorbed in their familiar play routine and not focus on anything else. Stress levels remain low.
Do bring a favourite drink, snack and or comforter.
It just makes them feel more relaxed.
A psychologist does not need to see your child upset, stressed or having a meltdown to be able to reach a diagnosis.

3. Can my wife/husband/partner/mother come to the assessment?

Yes, please. Do bring a family member/good friend if you are able. If you are unable to, don’t worry, we will work around this.
There are two reasons we recommend that another adult is present.
Sometimes there is a time during the process where we need to ask sensitive questions about your child’s behaviours. At such times. It’s a good idea if the other person present is able to take your child off for a little walk down to the café or around the harbour.
The second reason is that part of the assessment focuses on your child’s developmental history. It’s often hard to remember everything, sometimes a friend or relative can add extra information about your child that helps with diagnosis.

4. Will my child meet ‘Gus’ The autism assessment dog?

Gus is available for any autism assessment. His gentle, happy presence helps relax children and adults alike. He seems to give confidence. If you would like him to be present, please tell us in advance of the assessment.
As some people are allergic to or do not like dogs, Gus will not be at the assessment unless you request him.

5. How do I prepare my child for an ASD assessment?

This is the question we are most often asked. Going to strange surroundings can put a child into panic mode. If you can begin the preparation process at least 10 days in advance, this will help .
There is more about preparing your child for an autism assessment on our website www.lighthousepsychology.ie.
The important thing is to tell the truth to your child about the process rather than ‘spring’ the assessment on them the morning of their appointment.
It’s a great idea if children are given a clear understanding of the process and it is even better if you personally know of a child who has had an assessment before. This takes away the ‘scary’ and moves more towards the ‘normal’.

6. How long is the process?

The assessment usually takes roughly 2 hours. Breaks are available as and when needed.

7. How soon will I know the diagnosis?

You will receive the report which contains the diagnosis, reports, recommendations and strategies within 5 working days. It is usually possible to provide a tentative diagnosis at the end of the assessment. Once you have received the report, a further contact will be offered to explain any areas that may not be clear to a parent.

8. What happens after the assessment?

Each assessment is different and parents or adults often have different needs.
It is very usual for the psychologist to accompany parents into school to speak with teaching staff about the diagnosis.
This provides an opportunity for the psychologist to explain the strategies and modifications that are needed for a child to flourish and thrive in school. This is offered whether the child is at a national school or special needs school.
Where a person is in employment it is also usual for the psychologist to help ensure relevant modifications are made.

Looking forward
Once your child has a diagnosis, our mission is to continue to work with the family to ensure that problems are managed and skills encouraged at every step of the way. We provide one to one social skill sessions, anxiety counselling, advice about sensory toys and sensory room, etc.
For teenagers we work with the family to provide coaching in acceptable relationship and sexual behaviours in order to keep the young person with autism safe. We are also able to carry out a skills assessment and advise on suitable careers.

9. ‘I forgot to mention this……’.

It’s common for parents to leave the assessment and get home only to remember something that they wanted to add. It is no bother, simply email or telephone the clinic so that the information can be incorporated into the assessment material.

10. What if my child doesn’t meet the criteria for ASD? Am I back to Square 1?

No definitely not. The assessment will also be able to accurately diagnose conditions that are frequently confused with autism. Anxiety disorders, Attachment disorder, ADHD, ODD etc. will also be apparent using the diagnostic protocols used by the psychologist.
Each of these may be treated successfully at Lighthouse and specialist advice given. We are also able to diagnosis neurodevelopmental disability.

11. Illness on the day

Sometimes a child or parent is sick on the day of the assessment, especially in winter. Don’t worry. Please ring on the morning of the assessment and we will rearrange your slot. We keep a small number of assessment slots for this purpose alone. You will not have to wait long.
We respectively ask this because we work with vulnerable people of all ages, many are sick or undergo chemical therapy and catching an illness may be very serious for them. So please help us to help everybody.

Any other questions, please ask.

Written by Dr Chrissie Tizzard, Chartered Consultant Psychologist,
PsychD, MSc, BSc, Adv Dip Psychotherapy, RAPPS registered Supervisor,
AFBPS, C.Psychol. C.Psychol.PSI. BPS, PSI, HCPC reg.