Thoughts on the Quality of Assessor/Assessment for Autism in Girls/Women/Highly Sensitive People
Quote from Tania Marshall's Website Aspienwomen: Moving towards an Adult Female Profile of Autism
"In obtaining an assessment from a practitioner, it is critical that you see someone who is both trained and experienced in working with Autistic females, across the lifespan. They must have worked with (ideally under supervision) with a minimum 100 Autistic females, across the lifespan, to be able to observe the many varying expressions and syb-types. They must also be able to do a thorough family history, differential diagnosis, assess trauma and provide you with a comprehensive “What Next” Section.
They should be trained and experienced in differentiating between twice-exceptionality and Autism, HSP and Autism, ADHD and Autism, trauma and Autism, Camouflaging (Masking, Assimilation, Compensation), Personality Disorders and Autism (including the common presentation of both). They should also be trained and experienced in investigating Synaesthesia, Propagnosia, Irlen syndrome, 7 types of ADD, trauma and adult PDA. They should be aware of the unique spikey cognitive profile in addition to differentiating between Giftedness and Autism and Twice-Exceptionality. Make sure you’re assessed by professionals who are aware of the unique presentation and needs of both diagnoses.
They should be able to tell you what kind of thinker you are and your neurotype profile, and address learning disabilities. An IQ test can be important in adulthood and can provide additional meaningful information. A thorough comprehensive assessment includes both quantitative and qualitative information gathering, the most important part is family history and obtaining as much information about you as an infant, toddler, child, teenager up to the present day. This should include reviewing childhood and adult photos and information from family members. The primary diagnosis should be listed followed by all secondary diagnoses by clinicians."
Lila's Additional Thoughts on Choosing a Neurodiveristy-Affirming Assesor
In some ways, by definition, an assessment for autism cannot be neurodiversity-affirming, if you agree that being autistic is an identity rather than a "diagnosis." That being said, there are things you can look for in an assessor that indicates they may be more or less affirming of neurodivergent identities.
First, there are trainings on neurodiversity-affirming assessment. These are very new, and are mostly operating out of the UK and Europe, so the chances that any given assessor has taken them is low. However, you can still ask, and it may clue them into the existence of these trainings.
Second, you can get curious about the language they are using on their website and when you talk to them. See if they're using the words Aspergers, "disorder," "impairment," etc.
And third, definitely use your gut! As your reading the website, interacting with any administrative assistance or therapists/assessors at the practice, check in frequently with your system. See how it's feeling. See if your body and/or mind want to work with these people or not. And check in with yourself directly after the call. And the next day. And the next week. And trust your gut. Even if they look perfect on paper, your gut is telling you something. Trust it.