Frequently asked questions

We’ve put together a list of the most frequently asked questions that people have both before and after their autism diagnosis. If you have further questions, please get in touch to speak with one of our clinicians.

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What is meant by a multi-disciplinary assessment?
A multi-disciplinary assessment involves clinicians from different disciplines inputting into the assessment process and decisions regarding the outcome. We have clinical psychologists, mental health and neurodevelopmental specialist nurses and a speech and language therapist. Although not every clinician will see your child, we hold a panel review to agree outcomes regarding diagnostic assessments, which will include clinicians from more than one discipline. This ensures a robust process. We may also liaise with professionals outside of our clinic, with consent, such as Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, Occupational Therapists and Educational Psychologists.
What are the NICE Guidelines?

NICE guidelines (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) are evidence-based recommendations for health and care in England. They set out the care and services suitable for most people with a specific condition or need, and people in particular circumstances or settings. Assessments for neurodevelopmental conditions should follow the guidance set out by NICE, which can be found at www.nice.org.uk.

What is an ADOS assessment?

The ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) is a semi-structured, standardised assessment of communication, social interaction, and play or imaginative use of materials for individuals who have been referred because of possible autism. It is conducted by one of the clinicians in our clinic, following the initial assessment and only if indicated from the screening and developmental assessment interview.

The ADOS is scored and a report completed, which is sent to the clinician who conducted the initial assessment. The panel then review the ADOS, alongside all of the other assessment information, to assist in decision making regarding diagnosis. The ADOS is not used in isolation to diagnose autism.

Do you include OT, Educational Psychology or Speech and Language Assessments as part of your process?
Educational psychology, Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language assessments are not required in order to assess and diagnose autism and/ or ADHD, but some clinics include these as standard. We do not, as we try to keep our assessments affordable and in line with the processes used by our neighbouring CAMHS clinics. If, during an assessment, we pick up concerns that we feel require further specialist assessment from one of these disciplines, we will discuss and signpost you to colleagues in the relevant specialism.
Will your assessment be accepted by local authorities, CAMHS and schools?
This is a question we are regularly asked when it comes to child and adolescent assessments as parents are often understandably keen to ensure that an assessment they pay for privately will be recognised and used to access further support where necessary.

There is no legal basis upon which an assessment can be rejected simply because it was conducted privately, as long as it was conducted in accordance with the NICE guidelines and by suitably trained and experienced practitioners. All psychologists at Berkshire Psychology are registered with a regulatory body (Health and Care Professions Council, HCPC) to ensure that we continue to adhere to high standards of professional practice. Our mental health nurses are registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and our Speech and Language is registered with the HCPC and Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT). We all currently, or have previously, worked within the NHS, in child and adult services.

For families applying for Education and Healthcare Plans (EHCP’s) for their children, the question of whether a diagnosis will be accepted is often particularly pertinent. Local Authorities are required to consider advice from healthcare professionals when conducting EHCP assessments and can be considered in breach of the code of practice should this advice not be considered (Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice, 2015). We have worked with our neighbouring Local Authorities for a number of years, but for those travelling to us from further afield we may not be known. It may assist for you to share our information sheet regarding the assessments with the Local Authority so they can be reassured that our process meets the required standards.

It is important to note that our remit is to conduct neurodevelopmental assessments and to clarify whether a child meets the criteria for a diagnosis of one or more neurodevelopmental conditions. The report will include all of the information considered in making decisions regarding diagnostic thresholds. We do not usually provide specific advice regarding what support a child will need in school, or which specific educational setting should be able to meet their needs, to inform the EHCP. If specific advice in this regard is required, the assistance of an Educational Psychologist should be sought.

We are more than happy to liaise with Local Authorities regarding our assessments. Please direct any queries directly to Dr Jenny Murray.

Do we have to commit to and pay for a full assessment up front?
No, we offer a robust screening service during which we collect detailed information from you (initial assessment interview) and others (schools, employers, family members where appropriate). Screening measures are also considered before we proceed to the full assessment. If we do not feel there is likely to be enough evidence for a diagnosis, we will discuss this with you and make recommendations. See the fees section for details of the initial screening fee.
Why do you screen for autism and ADHD even if we have only requested an assessment for one condition?
Symptoms of Autism and ADHD often overlap and co-occur. Unless you / your child already has a diagnosis of one condition, screening for both ensures we do not miss anything and you only have one assessment process to go through.
Do I need a GP referral?
No, we accept referrals directly from individuals and sometimes third parties such as schools and employers.
How do I pay for the assessment?
Payment is required in advance of the initial appointment via bank transfer. We currently do not accept insurance payments. We can provide an invoice receipt for clients to claim back from insurance providers, but our payments are usually taken directly from clients. We do not accept cheque or credit card payments. You will be sent an invoice with payment instructions.
Do you offer a sibling discount?
Yes, we offer a 10% discount for siblings or individuals being assessed from the same family.
Do you assess and diagnose PDA?

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) not a recognised diagnosis in its own right, so cannot be formally diagnosed due to it not appearing in any of the diagnostic manuals that diagnostic clinicians are required to follow. It is considered a behaviour profile in Autism, characteristic of avoidance of everyday demands and expectations, to an extreme extent.

While we cannot assess and diagnose PDA in its own right, if our assessment identifies extreme demand avoidance as a behaviour profile, we will refer to it and signpost to more information and resources parents and carers (autism.org.uk).

What our clients think

Our son was so anxious in using teams, we were able to provide the Practice Manager with our sons interests that were passed onto the Doctor prior to the appointment. This provided a smoother transition in the experience

Get in touch

If you wish get in touch with Berkshire Psychology call us on 0800 001 6897

Dr Jenny Murray

Dr Jenny Murray

Jenny is the founder and clinical director of Berkshire Psychology. She is a Health and Care Professions Council registered psychologist. Since qualifying as a clinical psychologist in 2009 Jenny has worked in various NHS specialist CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health) services, providing assessments and interventions for young people with a range of complex needs whose behaviours present a risk to themselves and/or others.

In her NHS role in Alternative Educational Provision Jenny routinely assesses children and adolescents for autism and ADHD. She provides consultations and training to multi-agency professionals and is the strategic mental health lead for the school. Jenny is a Trauma Informed Schools Practitioner and is a trained Restorative Justice Practitioner for schools. She is also trained to deliver trauma therapy including EMDR. 

As an independent practitioner Jenny undertakes specialist assessments and interventions for adults, children and adolescents. She contributes expert witness reports for family proceedings and has an interest in complex trauma and formulating complex presentations. In her free time Jenny enjoys horse riding, yoga, walking her German Shepherd, spending time with her three children, watching Sport, films and any good TV series. 

Dr Gemma Rowland

Dr Gemma Rowland

Gemma is a Clinical Psychologist with over ten years experience in the NHS. She has spent six years working in tier 3 CAMHS services for children and young people affected by severe mental health difficulties. She has also worked in an NHS CAMHS Neurodevelopmental service where she gained experience and training in assessing Autism and ADHD.

She is passionate about working with young people and is currently pursuing accreditation in MBT-A (mentalization based therapy for adolescents). In her free time she likes reading, being outdoors and watching too much Netflix.

Dr Jasmine Anilmis

Dr Jasmine Anilmis

Jasmine is a Clinical Psychologist, registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. Jasmine has experience assessing and providing interventions for children and adults with a wide range of needs including mental health difficulties, autism, and learning disabilities, and has worked within CAMHS in the NHS for the past five years.

She routinely works with professionals with other agencies and has previously worked within a specialist CAMHS service embedded within the local authority to support children and young people at risk of being taken into care. In addition to her NHS work Jasmine undertakes Autism and ADHD assessments for Berkshire Psychology.

Dr Annabel Goodall

Dr Annabel Goodall

Annabel is a HCPC registered Clinical Psychologist with experience of working in NHS neurodevelopmental diagnostic services for children, adolescents and adults. Annabel has 15 years experience of working in a range of NHS services, including specialist community and in-patient services for adults with learning disabilities, adult mental health, adult physical health settings and in CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services). Annabel qualified as a Clinical Psychologist after completing her doctoral training at Coventry and Warwick University in 2015.

Since qualifying Annabel has worked therapeutically with individuals across the lifespan and has considerable experience of working more systemically in a consultative capacity. Annabel has been involved in diagnostic assessments and/or post-diagnostic interventions in all of her post-qualification roles. These include working in a CAMHS neurodevelopmental service, a CAMHS specialist CBT pathway and in a community Specialist Learning Disability and (Non LD) Adult Autism Diagnostic Team.

James Milkins

James Milkins

James is a neurodevelopmental specialist practitioner and registered mental health nurse. James has worked in the NHS since qualifying in 2013, with adults in inpatient and outpatient settings, with young people in Crisis and currently within a CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) Neurodevelopmental Assessment Pathway.

James has worked with Berkshire Psychology for four years, undertaking follow-up assessments for autism and ADHD. James is trained in both the QB Test and ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule). James is registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

James has now qualified as a non-medical prescriber. He manages the medication clinic and can be contacted via email: medication@berkshirepsychology.co.uk.

Harriet Hunter

Harriet Hunter

Harriet Hunter is a Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, who studied at Reading University and graduated in 2017. She is registered with the Health Care and Professional Council (HCPC) and is a member of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

Harriet has been working in a variety of school settings, with a mixed cohort in Primary, secondary and post-education. Harriet is ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) trained and can therefore assist in the diagnosis of ASD.

Harriet currently works at Meath Primary School (I-Can Trust), as well as for the Owl Therapy centre, completing 1:1 therapy as well as Online ADOS assessments. At Berkshire Psychology Harriet undertakes ADOS assessments for adolescents and adults and contributes to panel decisions regarding diagnosis.

Helen Lodge

Helen Lodge

Helen joined Berkshire Psychology in 2022 as Practice Manager. She has over 15 years of experience working with children, young people and adults in varied settings.

Her experience includes as Welfare Officer for a football club, exams officer and invigilator within senior schools, running youth centres and working within the residential sector for young people who have experienced trauma and who exhibit harmful behaviour.

Uzma Ashraf

Uzma Ashraf

Uzma is a qualified primary school teacher with 10+ years of experience. She is currently studying for a Masters in Psychology.

She works with us as a Psychology Assistant, helping with scoring assessments questionnaires and undertaking school observations.

Dr Alison Ram

Dr Alison Ram

Alison is a Clinical Psychologist registered with the Health & Care Professional Council (HCPC). She has worked in the NHS for over 10 years with children, adolescents and adults in a range of settings including Social Services, Health Care and Community Paediatrics.

Currently she is working in Acute Paediatrics, offering assessment and treatment to children and adolescents diagnosed with a range of long-term medical conditions such as Type 1 diabetes, epilepsy, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Alison is experienced in working with complex presentations and a high level of distress. Alison is skilled in the assessment of neurodevelopmental conditions such as ASD and ADHD and is trained and experienced in the ADOS-2.

Dr Angela Reece

Dr Angela Reece

Angela is a HCPC registered Clinical Psychologist who completed her doctoral training at the Universities of Coventry & Warwick and qualified in 2009. She has over 18 years’ experience of working within a range of NHS services including both child and adult focused work.

Since qualifying, Angela has spent the majority of her time working with children and their families in Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), an under 5’s Autism Assessment Service and currently she is the Principal Clinical Psychologist in a specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service, offering specialist assessment and a range of interventions to mothers and their infants.

Angela is trained in a variety of approaches including Circle of Security Parenting, which is an attachment focused intervention and Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) for treatment of trauma and PTSD symptoms.

Anna Maguire

Anna Maguire

Anna Maguire is a highly specialist speech and language therapist; with longstanding and varied experience working alongside children, young people and adults. Since 2009 she now specialises in Autism , Autism Assessment, Neurodivergence, Selective Mutism, with an additional interest in Trauma Informed Intervention.

Also working in an NHS role, Anna has the knowledge and skills to inform formal (ADOS) and informal Autism assessment.

Workwise and in no particular order Anna is passionate about well being and appreciating neurodiversity. She enjoys training and educating others about communication ,to support authentic connections and everyone's well being.

The rest of the time Anna is either swimming, cycling or running ...or thinking about it!

Dr Charlotte Harris

Dr Charlotte Harris

Charlotte is a Clinical Psychologist registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. She works in paediatrics, providing specialist assessment, formulation and intervention for children with physical health difficulties and their parents.

Charlotte also provides systemic intervention to families in crisis and has recently trained as an NVR therapist. Part of her current role involves assessing the neurodevelopment of children with craniofacial differences, which includes screening for ASD and ADHD. During training, Charlotte worked in an NHS CAMHS service that provided ASD and ADHD assessment. Charlotte has a long-standing interest in neurodevelopment; she is also a qualified secondary school teacher and has three children, two of whom are neuro-diverse.

These experiences have given her a holistic understanding of living well with neuro-diversity across contexts, and lived experience of the importance of thorough assessment, timely diagnosis and appropriate intervention for these conditions. Outside of work, Charlotte enjoys pub quizzes, comedy and gardening.

Dr Daniel Exley

Dr Daniel Exley

Dan is a clinical psychologist, registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC, registration no. PYL38794). Dan has experience working within an NHS Autism diagnosis service and currently works for a community learning disability team.

Dan has experience in assessing and supporting individuals with mental health difficulties, learning disabilities and neurodevelopmental conditions.

He has further training in EMDR (eye-movement desensitisation and reprocessing) and is interested in neuropsychology and supporting staff teams.

In his free time, Dan loves anything that gets him outdoors; running, walking, cycling, kayaking and swimming with his family.

Dr Domanic Caveney

Dr Domanic Caveney

Domanic is a Clinical Psychologist with over a decade of experience in the NHS. He has worked in a range of services including inpatient and outpatient Forensic Mental Health services for adults and adolescents, Secure Children's Homes, community CAMHS teams and Neurodevelopmental Assessment Services.

He has rich and varied experiences assessing for Autism and completing differential diagnosis assessment for complex young people. He is trained in IPT-A (Interpersonal Psychotherapy for adolescents) and is pursuing accreditation in Short Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.

He provides teaching on psychodynamic theory and practice to the Teesside University Doctorate in Clinical Psychology course, the same programme that he qualified from in 2020. Outside of work he enjoys yoga, rock climbing and live music.

Dr Eleanor Seddon

Dr Eleanor Seddon

Eleanor is an HCPC registered Clinical Psychologist with over ten years experience working in the NHS and social care. She qualified with her doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 2018 and has worked in a variety of areas including Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS), Neuropsychology, and Maternity & Neonatal Psychology.

These roles have involved working with individuals across the lifespan and has given experience of neuropsychological and neurodevelopment assessment, including assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD.

Emma Rickard

Emma Rickard

Emma Rickard has over 10 years experience working across Specialist Educational settings, the NHS and Adult Social Care services. Emma has a degree in Childhood Development and Sociology, as well as range of experience in supporting individuals with behaviours of concern.

Emma has also worked as a Behaviour Support Practitioner for CAMHS ASD/ADHD pathway.

Currently, Emma is working in the private adult social care sector as the Lead Positive Behaviour Support Practitioner, running a team of other Behaviour Practitioners and assistants to support individuals with complex needs gain a better quality of life.

She provides Positive Behaviour Support services for Berkshire Psychology.

Pennie Hawkes-Payne

Pennie Hawkes-Payne

Pennie Hawkes-Payne is a Neurodevelopmental Clinical Nurse Specialist with many years experience of working with neurodiversity in both the NHS and private practice.

Pennie has personal experience of parenting a child with autism as well as extensive experience supporting parents and carers. She is also a trained counsellor and has experience running parenting workshops specifically focused on parenting children with neurodiversity.

Pennie undertakes ADOS assessments as part of our multi-disciplinary assessment process,

Dr Elizabeth Dundewey

Dr Elizabeth Dundewey

Elizabeth is an HCPC registered Clinical Psychologist with over ten years experience working in the NHS. She qualified with her doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 2018 and has worked across the lifespan specialising in neuropsychology. Alongside working clinically, she is currently working towards a PGDip in Clinical Neuropsychology.

Elizabeth has experience in assessing and supporting individuals with complex mental health difficulties and neurodiversity. In her free time, she enjoys playing music, eating out and spending time outdoors with family.

Dr Rebecca MacKechnie

Dr Rebecca MacKechnie

Rebecca is a Senior Clinical Psychologist, registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Rebecca has extensive experience of neurodevelopmental (e.g. Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Intellectual Disability) diagnostic assessment. She has worked in national specialist services (specialising in complex and second opinion assessment) as well as in local community services.

Rebecca has over 10 years of experience in working with children and adults who have neurodevelopmental differences and their families. She has had specialist training in the use of a wide range of diagnostic assessment tools. Rebecca also has experience of adapting and delivering therapy to meet the needs of children and adults with neurodevelopmental differences who also present with complex mental health or behaviour concerns. She also provides teaching and training in this area.

 

Dr Harriet Bowyer

Dr Harriet Bowyer

Harriet is an HCPC Registered Clinical Psychologist who qualified in 2017.  Prior to working in private practice Harriet worked within the NHS for 7 years, and now works as a Lecturer in Applied Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University where she supports the development of individuals training to work as Practitioner Psychologists. She is experienced working with clients of all ages; assessing for, and working with, neurodevelopmental conditions such as Autism, ADHD and learning disabilities.

 

Dr Alice Kennedy

Dr Alice Kennedy

Clinical Psychologist, and registered with the Health and Care Professional Council

(HCPC, registration number PYL31768), Alice graduated with her doctorate from the University of Exeter. She has 17+ years of experience in a range of professional settings, including; NHS and third sector services, universities and in private practice, she is experienced in both child and adult focused work. Her work has included experience in Child and Adolescent Services (CAMHS), Adult Psychological Services, Youth Services and Clinical Health settings.

Alice works clinically with people with ADHD and/or Autism (ASD), supporting them to live full and meaningful lives and to understand neurodiversity across a number of settings. Alice is also currently an Assistant Professor, at Regent’s University, where she supports the development and training of trainee practitioner psychologists. She has previously designed and taught a module for trainee psychologists about neurodevelopmental assessments. Alice is experienced in assessing and supporting people with complex presentations and a high level of distress. She also provides diagnostic assessments and reports to the Courts as an Expert Witness. Alice recently worked with the British Psychological Society to design new, flagship e-learning about Trauma. She is an accredited Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) practitioner and has undertaken post-doctoral training in a number of therapy approaches including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassionate Focussed Therapy (CFT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and working with Ego States. She also provides clinical supervision to other qualified psychologists.

 

 

 

Dr Beth Larham

Dr Beth Larham

Clinical Psychologist, and registered with the Health and Care Professional Council

(HCPC, registration number PYL31768), Alice graduated with her doctorate from the University of Exeter. She has 17+ years of experience in a range of professional settings, including; NHS and third sector services, universities and in private practice, she is experienced in both child and adult focused work. Her work has included experience in Child and Adolescent Services (CAMHS), Adult Psychological Services, Youth Services and Clinical Health settings.

Alice works clinically with people with ADHD and/or Autism (ASD), supporting them to live full and meaningful lives and to understand neurodiversity across a number of settings. Alice is also currently an Assistant Professor, at Regent’s University, where she supports the development and training of trainee practitioner psychologists. She has previously designed and taught a module for trainee psychologists about neurodevelopmental assessments. Alice is experienced in assessing and supporting people with complex presentations and a high level of distress. She also provides diagnostic assessments and reports to the Courts as an Expert Witness. Alice recently worked with the British Psychological Society to design new, flagship e-learning about Trauma. She is an accredited Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) practitioner and has undertaken post-doctoral training in a number of therapy approaches including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassionate Focussed Therapy (CFT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and working with Ego States. She also provides clinical supervision to other qualified psychologists.

 

 

 

Tayla-Jean Puttock

Tayla-Jean Puttock

Assistant Psychologist

Tayla is an Assistant Psychologist with a background in working with neurodiversity in schools and private practices.  

Tayla has a BSc degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Research Methods in Neuroscience. She has experience working as an assistant psychologist in a private ADHD and mental health practice, and worked closely with children in schools suffering from various neurodivergent conditions, including ASD and ADHD. Additionally, Tayla had further training in being a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) in her previous role. 

Tayla undertakes Qb and ADOS assessments as part of our multi-disciplinary assessment process. She also assists Dr Jenny Murray and Helen Lodge with the overall running of the assessnent clinic. 

In her free time, Tayla loves fitness and being outside in nature with her family and friends.