In the UK, a Clinical Psychologist can formally diagnose autism. Their training is very different to that of a psychiatrist ← click here to go to that page of the glossary. A Clinical Psychologist takes an accredited degree in Psychology, with the BPS (British Psychological Society). After this it is likely they will work in the field of health and social care and continue to carry out research as part of a three year, postgraduate Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. All in all, this amounts to around 9 years of training.

Importantly, only those psychologists that are registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) have the right to use the title Clinical Psychologist. This is worth remembering, if you decide to seek a private autism assessment in order to avoid the, sometimes years long, waiting lists under the NHS.

Also worth noting, is that Clinical Psychologists can also diagnose ADHD. If diagnosis is your goal, then it makes complete sense to be assessed for autism and ADHD during the same assessment process. Assessments can be really tiring, not because they are horrible, they’re not. But just because concentrating for extended periods is exhausting for many of us.

There is a BUT to this – if your goal is to try ADHD drugs (such as Ritalin) then you will still have to be assessed by a psychiatrist as they have trained as medical doctors too and are therefore able to prescribe medication. If your goal is to get that stamp of approval, having already self-diagnosed or wondering, then go for the Clinical Psychologist option and save yourself valuable time (and money, if you’re going private).

The third category who can apparently diagnose ADHD are what the NHS describes as ‘specialist nurses’. I have recently been advised that this option can be a less than brilliant idea, but I need to do more research on this, and I’m in no way intending to diminish the important role that nurses play in the NHS – this information is just new to me – so I’m on the fence for the moment. The choice is yours, as always. And if you live in England you can make use of their Right to Choose pathway ← click here for more information from them and, for the glossary entry on the NHS Right to Choose (for some), ← click here.

Always check that your UK Clinical Psychologist follows the NICE guidelines for assessment of both autism and ADHD if you’re seeking a private assessment. If you live in Scotland, check that they follow the SIGN guidelines, accredited by NICE.