Specialist Assessments for Children and Young People

The Cognitive Assessment clinic at the Oakdale Centre is run by a team of highly trained and experienced Clinical Psychologists.

Cognitive Assessments are formal assessments which aim to identify areas where a child has strengths and those that they may have more difficulty with. We administer the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – Fifth Edition (WISC-V), which assesses a child’s cognitive abilities including concept formation, visual spatial processing, inductive reasoning, working memory, and speed of information processing. It can be completed without any reading or writing, and takes 65 to 80 minutes to complete. Whilst the WISC provides an overall IQ score, this overall score is not as important as understanding the profile of a child’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses on a holistic basis. For this reason, cognitive assessments are always conducted and interpreted by an experienced psychologist. We also offer a supplementary assessment of adaptive behaviour using the ABAS-3 (Adaptive Behaviour Assessment Scale). The ABAS-3 is a multidimensional and standardised assessment tool used to assess the functional skills necessary for daily living. This includes assessing a wide range of skill areas including: communication, community use, self-care, leisure, social, motor, functional academics, self-direction and health and safety.


Cognitive assessments can be helpful in identifying if a young person has a learning disability or whether they have specific learning difficulties.

By identifying the challenges that a child is having, a greater understanding can be achieved and appropriate help put in place to ensure that they achieve their full potential. These assessments may also illustrate areas which warrant further investigation by another professional, e.g. an occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, psychiatrist or educational psychologist.

What to expect?

Initially information will need to be gathered from parents, carers and where appropriate from a child’s school to gain a full developmental history. The assessment will then be conducted with the child, lasting around two hours. The number of appointments (one or two) required to complete this assessment will depend on the age and concentration ability of the child.

The results of the assessment will then be written up and a full report will be provided detailing the findings and any recommendations for home and school. A feedback session can be offered to discuss these results to ensure that they are fully understood. It is the client’s choice whether they would like school to be informed of this assessment and involved in the provision of additional information.

The Oakdale Centre offers a comprehensive and multidisciplinary Autism diagnostic assessment and profiling service for children and young people aged four to eighteen years. Obtaining an accurate and thorough diagnosis is crucial for identifying and addressing specific needs of young people. However, receiving a diagnosis is only the beginning of the journey and there will be uncertainties and questions about what the diagnosis means to both the young person and the system around them and what the future holds.

Initial Diagnosis

The assessment team predominantly includes a Psychiatrist, Clinical Psychologist and Speech and Language Therapist. All of our team have extensive, specialist training and experience working with neurodevelopmental disorders and in assessing Autism in line with NICE guidance, and criteria set out by the World Health Organisation and in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10).

There are two main parts to the assessment: a detailed face-to-face interview with a parent/guardian and a direct observation of the young person using the NICE recommended ADOS-2 assessment. We will also ask teaching staff to complete a questionnaire to provide a short summary of the child’s behaviours and achievements in school. Where necessary, an additional observation of the child in their educational setting (nursery, school, college etc.) will also be included as part of the assessment.

Following the assessment sessions, the team then meets to discuss the findings and determine whether or not the child meets the criteria for a diagnosis of Autism. Following this, a comprehensive report is provided detailing the outcomes of the assessment, whether a diagnosis is indicated, and a description of positive skills and areas of development. Further to this, the report will also detail recommendations for next steps, advice regarding post-diagnostic support and useful resources for the child and family.

Diagnostic Follow-up

Each child or young person with Autism will have an individual set of needs. Many children with Autism will have difficulties in school with learning and with social behaviour, and are likely to experience heightened anxiety and emotional difficulties. At the Oakdale Centre, we have a number of specialist clinicians who can help by providing holistic and practical advice and therapy in schools and colleges, as well as training and support for teaching staff. We can also provide comprehensive support and therapy to the young person and/or family which is tailored to their needs with the goal of helping the child or young person learn how to be safe, reduce behavioural challenges, improve communication and relationships, and thus promote a more positive quality of life.

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