What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects around 1 in 100 people. People experience autism in different ways, and we use the term Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) as a collective term for people who have diagnoses like Childhood Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. People with ASCs:
  • Experience difficulties communicating with and relating to other people
  • Have difficulties developing and maintaining relationships
  • Can have strong intense interests
  • May have a strong preference routine and find it difficult to adjust to change 
  • May experience sensory difficulties
People with ASCs may also have other complex needs and experience mental health difficulties such as depression and anxiety. Having a diagnosis can be helpful in supporting a person to understand their difficulties, and the impact of an ASC, as well as accessing more tailored support and self-help strategies. 

Your assessment

You will be invited to attend an appointment at one of our two bases in Exeter. Prior to attending the service for the first time somebody from the team who will be assessing you will arrange to speak to you to discuss the assessment and answer any queries you may have. We will also ask if you have any particular needs that it would be helpful for us to be aware of.

At your first appointment we will spend time discussing your background and the types of difficulties that you have been experiencing. We will also complete some questionnaires about your experiences. Some people chose to attend their appointment on their own or with someone to support them.

As part of the assessment process we will try to gather information about your childhood and development. When possible, we will arrange to meet or speak with someone who knew you well as a child, for example a parent or close relative. However, if this is not possible it can be helpful for us to meet or speak with someone who knows you well now, for example a partner, friend or other relative.

The assessment typically takes place over two to three appointments. The first appointment usually lasts three and a half hours.  Although this is a long appointment, we have arranged things in this way to reduce the overall number of appointments and minimise additional travel/disruption for you. We will make sure that we take regular breaks during this appointment.

At the end of the assessment appointment we will arrange to meet with you again for a follow-up appointment. 

Care and treatment

Some people that we assess do meet the criteria for a diagnosis, while others do not. In either case we will discuss the information that we have collected during the assessment and discuss the different sources of further support that may be available to you.

We offer a short post-diagnostic course to people who have been diagnosed by our service as well as a monthly support group, and a separate support group for family and friends of people who we have diagnosed. We also host a closed Facebook group providing further information about ASCs and promoting peer support.

Leaving our service

Once the assessment has been completed you will be discharged from our service.

Useful links

Follow DAANA on Twitter. Access to a closed Facebook group is offered to those diagnosed via the service.