Autism Resource Centre Pilot Diagnostic Service
Autism NZ is now offering 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.
Autism NZ Diagnostic service cultural pathway
With funding provided by Spectrum Trust, we now have our team kaiarahi who can support Māori and Pasifika people and their whānau through the diagnostic process. Our kaiarahi will with you kanohi ki te kanohi to talk about our service and what happens during an assessment. She will support you to fill out any paperwork involved, be present to support and guide your through the appointments, and then follow up with you after the assessment. If you would like our kaiarahi to be involved, please let us know, and we can either organise for her to go through the Registration of Interest (ROI) with you, or we can send it to you to fill out. You can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or ring Michelle Stevens on 021 790 827 to talk through how best to support you. If you do not need the support of our kaiarahi, you can contact us for information on our diagnostic service and appointment availability.
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.
- Kaiarahi – Hanna Randall, Specialist Teacher
- Service Lead and Speech-Language Therapist (SLT) – Michelle Stevens
- Lead Psychologist – Kristy Haslam
- Educational Psychologist – Kate Garland
- National Research and Advocacy Manager – Larah van der Meer
- Research and Advocacy Advisor – Lee Patrick
- Autistic Advisor – Chanelle Moriah
- Intern Psychologist – Jennifer Loughnan (through the Massey University Psychologist 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.
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 runs two days per week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The service has limited capacity. We can conduct 2-3 diagnostic assessments per week given the limited funding and time available. The aim is to increase this capacity over time.
Please note: We have had to close our waitlist for adults indefinitely due to very high demand for the service, with our existing waitlist exceeding capacity well into 2025. We do not anticipate the waitlist will reopen again until July 2024 at the earliest. If you email us enquiring about our adult waitlist, we will not be able to place your name on our list until we re-open the waitlist.
Our waitlist for children is now open. If you would like to include your child on our waitlist, please indicate this in an email and provide your name, phone contact, and the name and age of the child seeking an assessment.
Alternatively, you may want to look on the Community Links page which provides alternative diagnostic options.
How much does the assessment cost?
The service is provided at a subsidised rate and can also be free for those eligible.
Standard Assessment: $1,800 (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: $1,800 plus $120 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.
Autism New Zealand currently has funding from Spectrum Foundation to provide access to our service free of charge for everyone facing financial inequity. If cost is a barrier, please complete the cost barrier form requesting free access to the service. The need is assessed based on demographic information including:
a. Current employment and hours
b. Household income
c. Number of family members in household
d. Number of family members seeking diagnosis
e. If you are studying
f. If you are currently receiving any benefits.
Acknowledgement of our funders
The following funders have provided grants to support the diagnostic service:
Sutherland Self Help Trust
Lottery Community Sector Research
We are continually seeking funding to support the diagnostic service to ensure we can keep costs as low as possible.
Please see our diagnostic information sheet which outlines our diagnostic assessment process.
How to apply
We are currently not taking any requests for adult assessment. Any queries can be directed to email@example.com To request for a child to be placed on our waiting list, please email us with the name of the child, age, and contact information of parent or carer. Once your name comes up on the list, we will contact you to fill out an ROI.
Please note: We are currently fully booked and our waitlist for 2024 and 2025 are closed.
Phone. Michelle Stevens, Service Lead on 021 790 827
Office hours. Tuesdays and Thursdays 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.