A supporter emails RAPS

RAPS recently received this email from a supporter:

I have been advised to forward this to you, I have recently sent this to the APS and those in charge of the NDIS issues there, as well as taking this issue up with NDIA directly. Amongst all the other concerning statements being made about Psychologists skills and area of practice, I have come up against another one.

I hope to receive an answer from APS in regard to this matter and from NDIA as I am extremely concerned about where this going.

I’m not sure if the APS is aware that following on from the tiered pricing recommendation by NDIS they formally released new guidelines around diagnosis of Autism. These guidelines directly state that only Clinical Psychologists are able to diagnose Autism and that diagnosis made by any other endorsed or generalist Psychologist will not be accepted. As an Endorsed Forensic Psychologist with many Generalist colleagues who have decades of experience diagnosing and providing evidence based intervention to people with Autism I find this very distressing and (to be honest) insulting. I myself would have met and provided psychological intervention or assessments to over 600 people with Autism, I conduct workshops in this area and have trained Clinical, and other Psychologists in this area. Given that the clinical degree provides no extra training in Autism whatsoever, and a new grad Clinical Psychologist who may never have met a person with Autism can make this diagnosis and an experienced Psychologist of any other area (including Ed and Dev) cannot is illogical at best. Obviously there are many arguments to make here and I will not go into detail here, as being a Psychologist yourself I’m sure you know them.

Of even greater alarm is the slippery slope this seems to have created. I have been personally told by NDIA staff that only a Clinical Psychologist can diagnose Autism because DSM 5 must be used and only a Clinical Psych can use DSM 5. I know this is an untrained person at NDIA – however this suggests a lack of education about the area of psychology and the specialist areas overall, that I feel must be addressed.

In addition I am now being told by families and NDIA staff that only a Clinical Psychologist can conduct cognitive testing (eg IQ testing and adaptive behaviour assessment). We have literally had clients turned away with our reports by NDIA being told – no you must get a Clinical Psychologist to do this testing. If there is a point where cognitive assessments by ALL registered Psychologists are not accepted then I think we need to either educate better, lobby harder or, to be honest, shut up shop.

I have directly approached NDIA, as I work with them in development of aspects of the scheme and am meeting with the ECEI Strategic Advisor to discuss these very matters. However I would love the APS to address these issues which are at the very least alarming for Psychology, detrimental to the access for people with a disability to experienced Psychologists and insulting on an individual level.