A social communication assessment is requested by your community paediatrician to help gather additional information about your child’s social communication skills, possibly to support the diagnosis of or rule out Autism. It is used for children under 6 years old who may find it difficult to engage in more structured, formal assessments.

During the assessment the speech and language therapist will play some games and complete some activities with your child, they may ask them questions depending on their language level. Social communication skills develop with age and therefore the assessment and what is assessed within these areas will vary according to the child’s age.

Observing your child throughout these games and conversations provides information around your child’s social communication skills. The speech and language therapist will assess things such as:

  • Eye contact
  • Initiation of communication
  • Turn-taking
  • Joint attention
  • Non-verbal communication skills
  • Sensory behaviours
  • Response to communication
  • Restricted/repetitive behaviours
  • Social understanding of situations
  • Play skills
  • Imagination and understanding of other individual’s feelings
  • Thoughts and emotions

The assessment usually takes about half an hour.

Don’t worry, we understand that every child is different, and want to reassure you that whatever your child does on the day, it will help us to better understand them. This is also why we have a number of different ways of gathering information as part of the overall assessment process.

We understand that this is an important appointment for you and your child.  It’s normal to feel anxious, because you want to do the best for your child. Don’t worry we will be there supporting you and your child through every step of this appointment and the overall assessment process.

The social communication assessment is only one part of the assessment process. After this assessment you will be seen by a paediatrician, at a later date, who will have a discussion with you about your child, and provide feedback on the outcome of the assessment process which includes reviewing all previous evidence provided by parents or carers. 

As part of the assessment process we may also seek the views of other professionals who work with your child, such as members of staff at your child’s nursery or school, or social workers. Your child’s information may also be taken to a multi-disciplinary meeting where it is looked at by multiple paediatricians, a psychologist and a speech and language therapist. A diagnosis may or may not be given following this assessment depending on the findings from all of the information, it may also be that further assessment is required.