Autism Diagnostic Research Centre
Tel: 023 8020 2631

Psychiatric assessment


Autism is not a mental illness. However, some people with autism to present with mental health problems such as anxiety or depression.

For some people it will be necessary for the person to meet with one of the psychiatrists on the team The Psychiatric Assessment will focus on:

  • social and affective presentation
  • quality of attachment to family members
  • development of peer relationships
  • capacities for self awareness
  • level of insight into social and behavioural problems

Other areas examined will include the presence of obsessions and compulsions, depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and coherence of thoughts. Problem behaviours such as marked aggression will also be examined.

Overview of the psychiatric assessment

In the video below, Dr. Dominic Casey (Consultant Psychiatrist) outlines the role of the psychiatric assessment, within the overall diagnostic process.

Read the transcript of the video

"I view the purpose of the psychiatric assessment within the ADRC process as having two main functions. The first is to support the diagnostic process, to help secure a diagnosis of autism, or to exclude any mental health conditions that may be presenting in a similar way. The second function, which is equally important, is to exclude or identify any mental health conditions that may be running in parallel with the diagnosis of autism.

It is well established that people with autism, whether or not they have a mental health condition, may at some point in their lives present with some form of psychological or emotional distress that would benefit from psychiatric support or intervention.

My job is to identify these, and having done so, to highlight them back to the referrer, so that appropriate psychiatric or psychological interventions can be put into place if necessary."

Dr. Dominic Casey, Consultant Psychiatrist