How can I get an autism assessment in BC?
Disclaimer: Always look at multiple sources of information. The following is based on my clinical experience and resources from government websites and I do try to be as accurate as I can, but there may be changes in how the system works so always consult multiple sources! As I have only worked in BC, Canada, I can only describe my experience working in this province. Every province has a different system.
In essence, there are two method of getting an autism assessment in BC. You can go public or private. Always contact your family doctor or pediatrician if you have any concerns.
The assessments are completed through the BC Autism Assessment Network (BCAAN). On their website, it says that they accept referrals from all physicians (family doctor or pediatrician).
Sometimes, a speech-language pathologist is your first point of contact because you have not been able to access services from a physician. We cannot make the referral for an autism assessment at BCAAN, but I have suggested to families to contact their family doctor or pediatrician if they would like to complete a public assessment at BCAAN.
The wait time is currently is 73.8 weeks (averaged across all locations in BC) since the original date of referral for an assessment - last checked November 25, 2020. Due to COVID, the wait times have increased. You can contact the regional coordinator listed on their website to inquire about specific wait times for your region.
You will need to pay out of pocket for a private assessment. If you have extended health insurance, sometimes it covers part of the psychologist and speech-language pathologist costs, but you will need to contact your extended health insurance to confirm. Prices vary across different practitioners. You will need to call/research the price for each psychologist. Typically, the costs are around $2000-3000, but it varies across each practitioner.
Your main point of contact for a private assessment is typically the psychologist or pediatrician. A report from a psychologist and speech-language pathologist is required for a private assessment - see this lengthy document if you want in-depth information.
Some psychologists may require an assessment report from a speech-language pathologist before they schedule an assessment with your child.
You can contact a local psychologist for a private autism assessment directly, or ask for a referral from your pediatrician. If you would like to seek more advice before contacting a psychologist, you can also contact your speech-language pathologist or other health providers (e.g., social worker, occupational therapist).
Families choose public vs. private assessments for different reasons. A big factor is wait time. Typically, a private assessment can be completed rather quickly and you don't need to wait that long. However, some private practitioners do have waitlists now.
Another reason that families may want an assessment sooner is that if a child is diagnosed with autism, they can access funding for therapy services sooner.
Children under 6 are eligible for up to $22000 in funding a year.
Children over 6 are eligible for up to $6000 in funding a year.
Please see this page for more details on funding.
List of Private Psychologists
This is a list of private psychologists that you can contact for an assessment in the Lower Mainland. I do not recommend one psychologist over another nor endorse any of these psychologists. This is just a starting point for families because I know the diagnosis process is overwhelming and that there is a lot to learn.
In no particular order...
Able Developmental Clinic has locations in West Vancouver, Richmond, and Surrey.
Dr. Marjolaine Limbos - Vancouver, Coquitlam, Whistler
Monarch House - Multiple locations in BC
Fraser Developmental Clinic is based in New Westminster.
Compass Clinic is based in Vancouver.
Dr. Staci Illsey is based in Vancouver.
Dr. Corina Brown is based in Surrey and Maple Ridge.
Southpoint Developmental Clinic is based in Surrey.
What if I need a speech-language assessment from an speech-language pathologist?
If you have seen a speech-language pathologist at a public health unit or child development center, you may already have an assessment report. If not, you can contact private SLPs to a complete speech and language assessment. The list in BC can be found here, and the list for SLPs on the registered autism service provider list is here. The lists are long, but you can filter through them by location, language and specialty for a shorter list.
If you have questions about the blog post, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.