Online Autism Assessments


Full paper:


Nothing about us without us
Who: Gibbs and colleagues
Journal: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Published: 2021
Title: Autism assessment via telehealth during the Covid 19 pandemic: Experiences and perspectives of autistic adults, parents/carers and clinicians

Telehealth & Autism Assessments

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of people now receive healthcare, including assessment & intervention, via telephone or other telecommunication device.

How do people feel about this?


Previous research has found that diagnostic assessments, intervention, and therapy via telecommunications have largely positive experience, equivalent to face-to-face services.

The Participants:

16 autistic adults.
56 parents/carers of autistic children & adults.
7 diagnostic clinicians.
Recruited from an autism assessment service in Sydney, Australia.


They were interviewed about their experiences of telehealth assessments.

The Results:

About a third of participants felt that there were important things that they were unable to do or say online that they would be able to do in person.

About 80% of people felt comfortable interacting with the clinician online, and about 60% would be happy to do future assessments online.


The majority were very experienced with telecommunication, and about a third experienced technical difficulties during their assessment, although this only impacted the assessment in 12.5% of cases.

Clinicians generally felt comfortable delivering assessments online, although some felt slightly less confident with the observation aspect of the assessment, or with assessing younger children.


From the interviews, there were four main themes, and eight subthemes.


Acceptability of autism assessments via telehealth.
Theme 1: Teleassessments are a convenient option

  • Clients did not have to travel
  • Great during COVID
  • Clients felt relaxed in familiar surroundings

Theme 2: Teleassessments may not be for everyone

Theme 3: Clinicians needed to adapt their practices

  • Heavier reliance on other sources of information
  • Complete reliance on carers for child assessment

Theme 4: Technology can negatively impact assessment experiences

  • Some behaviours may not be apparent
  • Communication difficulties of client
  • Using appropriate technology

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