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Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule

Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule

The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) is an assessment of social communication, social interaction and play used on children and adults suspected of having autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Benefits of an ADOS assessment

The ADOS is beneficial for those suspected of autism and that would like to know whether a diagnosis suits them. It is also beneficial for families of children suspected of having autism as it will enable them access to the right support and provide an explanation for their child's difficulties.

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What will the ADOS assessment assess?

The ADOS will assess several different aspects of the child's social communication, interaction and play. This may include:

  • Body language
  • Eye contact
  • Use of gestures
  • Imagination
  • Story-telling
  • Use of language
  • Repetitive behaviours
  • Sensory seeking behaviours

There are four different modules of the ADOS which are designed to assess similar things but in different ways to suit different abilities. The four modules span differing developmental levels and differing language abilities, ranging from non-verbal to fluent complex speech.

The ADOS will be carried out on one day and you will be invited back on another day after the assessment so that the professionals can discuss their findings with you. The ADOS involves standardised activities that are appropriate to different developmental levels, these activities will be fun for the children but will allow the speech and language therapist to see if behaviours are occurring or are not occurring. Usually, the assessment will be carried out by two therapists. This is so that one therapist can administer the activities with the child whilst the other can make comprehensive notes of their observations.

Why is an ADOS assessment needed?

An ADOS assessment is needed in order to confirm a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. It can also be used to rule out a diagnosis and provide evidence for other social communication difficulties. The ADOS provides information on a lot of different areas of social communication, this can help people in the future recognise the child's strengths and weaknesses when providing them with support.

Typical conditions that require an ADOS assessment

An ADOS assessment is specialised to help those of suspected Autism spectrum disorder. However, it can be useful for those that may have Social communication difficulties that would like to rule out autism as a diagnosis appropriate for them.

What information will I receive following an ADOS assessment?

The team of speech therapists will discuss their findings following the assessment with another member of the multidisciplinary team, this is usually a clinical or educational psychologist. After these findings have been discussed and the assessment is scored, they will amalgamate this information with any other information they may have asked you to provide e.g. letters from school, checklists of things you have observed from home. After all of this has been discussed together, you will be invited back to the clinic to speak to the team. They will discuss their findings with you and potentially discuss the diagnosis of ASD and the impact this may have, if this has been identified.

A detailed report of the assessment and discussion will then be written by the speech and language therapist, this will be sent to you, the child's school and any other relevant professional.

Treatment following an ADOS assessment

If social communication, language or play difficulties have been identified through the ADOS assessment, the speech and language therapist may see it as appropriate to offer your child some treatment. Treatment will depend on the severity of your child's difficulties and their goals. Therapy may focus on many different aspects of social communication as well as strategies and advice to give to home and school to help the child communicate and function in different environments.


The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) assessment is designed to assess the social communication, interaction and play of those suspected of having autism. It has many different activities that are made to suit people of different developmental and language levels. It will benefit any of those with social communication difficulties and provides lots of useful information. If you would like any more information on the ADOS assessment please do not hesitate to contact us on office@sltforkids.co.uk or call 0330 088 2298.

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