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Autism Diagnosis in WA

01 May 2017

In Western Australia, the process for diagnosing autism is more stringent than in other parts of Australia. If you or your child were diagnosed outside of WA, you may need to be reassessed in WA in order to meet eligibility criteria for disability support services. The diagnosing professionals required and the process differs between children and adults (see below).

Autism Diagnostic Assessment for Children Aged 0-15yrs

In WA, a child aged 0-17yrs must be assessed for autism by three professionals, who must all agree on the diagnosis. The three professionals are:

  • Developmental Paediatrician
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Clinical or Developmental Psychologist

Please note that not all qualified professionals perform autism diagnostic assessments.

Image showing diagram of autism diagnostic process for 0-15yrs: GP refers to Paediatrician, who refers to Speech Pathologist and Psychologist

What is the process for autism diagnostic assessment in WA for children aged 0-15yrs?
  1. Book a long appointment with your GP for your child, to request a referral to a developmental paediatrician for autism assessment. Your child needs to attend this appointment with you. Your GP will forward a referral form to the paediatrician of your choice, and the paediatrician staff will then contact you to book an appointment. If you do not hear from them within 2 weeks, we would recommend contacting the paediatrician's office directly.
  2. The developmental paediatrician will conduct their assessment of your child. If the paediatrician feels further assessment is appropriate, they will refer your child to a speech pathologist and psychologist for formal autism diagnostic assessment. This can be through the public or the private systems. In the public system, the diagnostic assessment is conducted free of charge, however there is usually a waiting period of 6-12mths for children aged 0-6yrs, and a waiting period of approximately 2yrs for children and adolescents aged 7-17yrs. Public autism diagnostic assessments are conducted by Department for Communities - Disability Services OR the State Child Development Centre (Perth families only). Alternately, the paediatrician can refer your child to a private speech pathologist and psychologist for formal autism diagnostic assessment. The waiting period for private assessment is approximately 2-4mths, and there is a cost to you for the assessment. Some small Medicare and/or private health insurance rebates may apply, please contact the diagnostician(s) direct prior to the appointment for more information on fees and rebates.
  3. The speech pathologist and psychologist collaborate to perform their autism diagnostic assessments, and write a formal diagnostic report. The assessment outcomes are discussed between the paediatrician, speech pathologist and psychologist, and the final autism diagnostic report is completed and sent to you.

Note: In the public system, Department for Communities - Disability Services will use both a speech pathologist and psychologist in their diagnostic assessment team for adolescents aged 13-15yrs. Through the private system, 13-15yr olds will be assessed by paediatrician, psychologist and if required, speech pathologist.

Autism Diagnostic Assessment for 16-17yr olds

In WA, 16 to 17 year olds will usually be assessed for autism by:

  • Developmental Paediatrician and
  • Clinical or Developmental Psychologist

Autism Diagnostic Assessment for Adults Aged 18yrs & Over

In WA, adults must be assessed for autism by two professionals who must both agree on the diagnosis. The two professionals are:

  • Psychiatrist
  • Clinical or Developmental Psychologist

Please note that not all qualified professionals perform autism diagnostic assessments.

Image showing diagram of autism diagnostic process: GP refers to Psychiatrist and Psychologist for formal diagnostic assessment

What is the process for autism diagnostic assessment in WA for adults aged 18yrs & over?
  1. Book a long appointment with your GP to request a referral to a psychiatrist (and psychologist if preferred, or the psychiatrist can refer you) for autism assessment.
  2. The psychiatrist and psychologist will conduct their autism diagnostic assessments with you. This is currently only available in the private system, and there is a cost to you for the assessments.
  3. The psychiatrist and psychologist discuss their assessments, and if they both agree on the diagnosis of autism, will write a formal diagnostic report, which will be sent to you. Some small Medicare and/or private health insurance rebates may apply, please contact the diagnostician(s) direct prior to the appointment for more information on fees and rebates.

Note: It is recommended that you attend your appointment with an adult who has known you since childhood.

Who performs autism diagnostic assessments privately?

South West Region of WA Based Private Autism Diagnosticians:

  • Felicity Adams (clinical psychologist) - partners with Ashton Horsley
  • Joanne Edmonds (developmental psychologist) - partners with Laura Rosenhart
  • Ashton Horsley (speech pathologist) - partners with Felicity Adams
  • Brad Nugent (developmental psychologist) - partners with Laura Rosenhart
  • Laura Rosenhart (speech pathologist) - partners with Brad Nugent or Joanne Edmonds
  • Please visit our Find Support directory for contact details of developmental paediatricians operating in the south west region.

IMPORTANT: To be able to claim a rebate from Medicare for private diagnostic assessment, you need a referral to the diagnostic team from your Paediatrician first.

If you are a registered private autism diagnostician operating in the south west region of WA and are not listed above, please contact us.

I / My Child Have Received A Formal Diagnosis of Autism. What Do I Do Now?
  1. The parent (primary carer) of a child aged 0-16yrs diagnosed with autism qualifies for Carer's Allowance from Centrelink. You will need to contact Centrelink for the application form, and have the Carer's Allowance Medical Report completed by your child's paediatrician or GP. Carer's Allowance is a fortnightly payment from Centrelink to assist with costs associated with the disability, and includes a Health Care Card in your child's name. The Carer's Allowance is reassessed when your child turns 16yrs of age, and may or may not continue. Adults diagnosed with autism, adolescents and parents please see our article Turning 16 and Disability Support (Financial Assistance) for more information on financial support available through Centrelink.
  2. A child or adult diagnosed with autism is eligible to register for support from Department for Communities - Disability Services (formerly called Disability Services Commission). To register, you will need to contact Disability Services by phoning 1800 998 214 (Freecall), or contact your local Disability Services Office:

    ~ Upper South West
    (Bunbury, Eaton, Australind, Capel, Collie & Harvey & surrounding areas) *Eligible for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding from 1 October 2018. To obtain an access request form for NDIS, you will need to contact them on 1800 800 110 or contact NDIS here . Prior to 1 October 2018, children aged 0-8yrs residing in Upper South West region are eligible for early intervention therapy funding through Disability Services. See also DSC Guide to selecting therapy providers.

    ~ Lower South West
    (Busselton, Dunsborough, Margaret River, Augusta, Bridgetown-Manjimup, Donnybrook-Balingup & surrounding areas) *Currently eligible for funding support from WA NDIS (state system). From 1 September to 31 December 2018, Lower South West people will transfer to NDIS (federal system).

    ~ You will need to provide proof of ID (birth certificate or passport for child, 100pts of ID for adults), a copy of the formal autism diagnostic report, and proof or residence (eg. electricity or phone bill).
  3. Families of children aged 0-7yrs can access information and support from the Autism Advisor Program provided through the Autism Association of WA.
  4. You are also invited to register as a member of SWAN (free of charge), follow our public Facebook Page and/or join our closed Facebook Peer Support Group.
  5. Check out our Find Support directory for more information on support services available in the south west, statewide, and nationally.
  6. Please contact us if you need independent information or support.