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Staying in my lane

Assessment and diagnosis is a tricky beast to navigate at times, and it can be super confusing to know who is the professional (in Australia) who is trained to assist versus who is accepted as a diagnostician by the funding bodies (looking at you NDIA!!)

So I have put this together to try and help make it a bit clearer around some of the diagnoses a neurodivergent individual may indentify in themselves and wish to explore further.

Disclaimer: non-affirming, medical-model language is necessarily used in this post to refer to DSM-V-TR disorders

Psychologists (that’s me, Victoria!) can diagnose:

  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders including Autism, ADHD, Intellectual Disability, and Specific Learning Disorders (including dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia)
    • SLDs are considered neurological issues, and the psychologist’s role in the diagnostic process is to investigate learning strengths and difficulties. An Occupational Therapist (OT) can identify handwriting and fine motor difficulties,
  • Communication Disorders can be assessed by a Psychologist, however, may be referred on to a Speech Language Pathologist for differentiating between communication and swallowing disorders, or perhaps a medical specialist such as a Neurologist or Gerentologist.
  • Eating Disorders (dieticians are knowledgeable about the criteria for diagnosing nutrition-related diseases, such as eating disorders, but providing the diagnosis is not within a dietitian’s scope of practice). 

    Eating disorders are considered serious psychiatric disorders, and include:

    • anorexia (anorexia nervosa)
    • bulimia (bulimia nervosa)
    • binge-eating disorder (BED)
    • avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)
    • other eating and feeding disorders (OSFED).

Psychologists can also complete Functional Capacity Assessments (as can OTs and SLPs). However, the report may have a different focus (mental health impact, physical/motor impact, communication/language impact) but there is a lot of cross over.

Sensory Processing, Auditory Processing, and Dyspraxia may be explored by a Psychologist (eg as part of an assessment of autism).

Visual imagery processing differences such as phantasia and hyperphantasia can be considered neutral characteristic of neurodivergence. Similarly, misophonia (extreme response to sounds), synesthesia (experiencing one of your senses through another, a common form is auditory-tactile, such as experiencing intense physical pain on hearing a sound) are also neutral neurodivergences. 

In diagnosing dyspraxia, sensory integration and praxis tests and coordination/motor-based tests would be conducted by an OT or Physiotherapist. There is a free Auditory Processing Disorder screener available here if you’re curious.