Autism Resource Centre Pilot Diagnostic Service
Autism NZ and the Victoria University of Wellington Autism Clinic have received funding from the IHC Foundation to pilot an autism diagnostic service in the Autism Resource Centre in Petone.
Aims of the service
“Every Step Together”: Our aim is to provide a diagnostic service that is individual- and family-centred, strengths-based and connects people to ongoing supports that meet their needs.
We are providing a lower cost private option in which people seeking a diagnosis pay a reduced fee to access autism assessment and diagnosis. This will help alleviate access barriers Autism NZ identified in research on autism diagnosis in New Zealand. In particular, wait times through the public system and cost barriers through the private system.
We have worked closely with the autistic and autism community, District Health Boards and private practitioners in development of this service, as well as ensuring it aligns with recommendations from the New Zealand Autism Guideline.
To increase professional capacity and expertise the service also hosts professional development opportunities related to autism diagnosis. Autism New Zealand hosts yearly workshops on autism assessment and diagnosis and provides autistic authored information resources.
The service is also a teaching-based facility for Victoria University of Wellington Educational Psychology interns. We provide internship opportunities for master’s students to gain diagnostic experience under the supervision of experienced practitioners thereby broadening the autism specific clinical workforce.
Meet the team
We have a multidisciplinary team involved in our service.
- Clinical Psychologist – Kerstin Kramar
- Educational Psychologist – Sally Curtis
- Speech-Language Therapist (SLT) – Michelle Stevens
- National Research and Advocacy Manager (Service Lead) – Larah van der Meer
- Research and Advocacy Advisor – Lee Patrick
- Intern Educational Psychologists (through the Victoria University of Wellington Educational Psychology training programme)
Who can access the service?
We will prioritise access for children under 5 years as well as adults 18 years and over who are querying a diagnosis of autism. This is based on findings from Autism NZ autism diagnostic research which identified increasing access to diagnosis for young children and adults as two key areas of need.
Our aim is to increase this scope over time and offer diagnosis for older children and adolescents potentially from 2023, as we know this can be a critical period for diagnosis.
Only those living in the wider Wellington region are eligible to access the service in person. Over time we will look to increase this to other regions and possibly using online Zoom consultations.
We will also consider whether assessment for conditions other than autism (e.g., ADHD) is more appropriate. If this is the case, another service might be more suitable, and we will help you to access an alternative service if this is needed.
When will the service run and how many people will be assessed?
The service will run one day a week on Fridays.
The service will initially have very limited capacity. We anticipate that we will only be able to conduct 1-2 diagnostic assessments per week given the limited funding and time available. The aim is to increase this capacity over time.
The service will open from February 2022.
How much does the assessment cost?
The service is provided at a subsidised rate.
Standard Assessment: $580.00 (incl. GST).
Our standard assessment for autism follows recommendations from the New Zealand Autism Guideline and involves observation, interview, and standardised assessment. It includes a report with outcomes from the assessment.
Complex assessment: $580 plus $75 per additional hour (incl. GST).
In certain situations additional assessment is required to rule out or identify other possible diagnoses (e.g., developmental delay, ADHD). If, following the initial interview, we feel that further assessment is necessary, we will discuss the reason for additional assessment, what it will involve, as well as provide a quoted price.
Please contact us if this cost is a barrier. We can work with you to see how we can support access to diagnosis.
Diagnostic assessment information
The documents linked below outline our diagnostic assessment process.
How to apply
People can self-refer to the service. To apply, please email us on email@example.com to request a registration of interest (referral) form.
Phone. Larah van der Meer, Service Lead on 021 190 6070
Office hours. Fridays 8.30am – 5pm
Physical address. Autism Resource Centre, 20 Sydney Street, Petone, Lower Hutt 5012
The Autism Resource Centre is a custom-built space for the autistic and autism community. It is wheel-chair accessible and includes sensory-friendly light sources, appropriate sound filtration, quiet rooms, and transition spaces to support people in entering and leaving the building.