Northern Health Assessment Network (NHAN)

The Northern Health Assessment Network (NHAN) is a provincial program that serves all of Northern BC through centralized locations in Prince George, Terrace, and Dawson Creek. The program provides diagnostic assessments for children and youth (ages 0-18) who are suspected of having an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or other neurodevelopmental conditions through either the BC Autism Assessment Network (BCAAN) or the Complex Developmental Behavioural Conditions (CDBC) program which includes Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) assessments.

Autism

How can I get my child assessed?

  • Make an appointment with your family doctor to talk about your concerns.
  • Your doctor may refer your child or youth to a pediatrician to rule out possible medical causes for delays and difficulties.
  • If further assessment is required, a medical practitioner, psychiatrist, or speech-language pathologist, can make a referral to the NHAN clinic for a diagnostic assessment using our referral form.

What will happen next?

All referrals are reviewed to ensure they meet eligibility criteria for an assessment through NHAN. If it is determined that your child or youth meets eligibility criteria for an Autism assessment, they will be placed on the waitlist and the legal guardian will receive a confirmation letter. If it is decided that the NHAN is not the best fit for your child, you will be informed and other programs or services will be suggested.

How long will I have to wait for an assessment?

The current wait time for an assessment is approximately 2 years from the date of referral. We are working to reduce wait times and will do everything we can to see your child as soon as possible. We can assist with helping you find other resources to meet your needs while you wait. For more information, please visit the BCAAN webpage.

What can I do while I am waiting?

We know that waiting is difficult. If you run into difficulties while you are waiting, contact your doctor for help. AutismBC has a support network and a free waiting for assessment workshop.

Who do I call during the waiting period?

If you have any concerns about your child, please call your family doctor or specialist.

Do I have to have my child assessed by a BCAAN clinician?

Clinicians who are not part of BCAAN can assess and diagnose children but they have to follow the Ministry of Health standards and guidelines in order for you to receive funding from MCFD. If you want your child assessed by a clinician who is not part of BCAAN, talk to your doctor.

You may want to contact the Autism Society of BC at 604-434-0880 for a list of professionals who can privately assess your child.

What happens during the intake process?

You can help the intake process by supplying the NHAN clinician with any of your child's previous records you may have available such as:

  • developmental history
  • photographs of your child at different ages
  • school report cards and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
  • speech and language, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and psychology reports
  • other assessment and progress reports by community service providers

If you don't have access to these reports, the NHAN clinician will obtain them with your permission.

Prior to the assessment it is recommended that your child have:

  • a vision exam
  • a hearing test

What will the assessment involve?

The assessment team will complete a comprehensive diagnostic assessment, which may or may not include a pediatrician, speech and language pathologist, and a psychologist.

Can I get service in a language other than English?

Although English is most often spoken in the clinics, we can have an interpreter attend your appointments by phone. You should let us know if you need an interpreter when we give you an appointment.

Are all the appointments on the same day?

It depends on your child's needs and where you live.

Who should come to the appointments?

At least one parent or guardian needs to be at the assessments to provide information and to support your child. You can bring another family member or caregiver.

Can my community team be involved?

It can be useful for the clinicians to talk to people in your community who will be providing ongoing treatment and care to your child.

What happens after the assessment?

After the assessment is completed, the clinicians will meet with the family to explain results, provide diagnoses, make recommendations, and answer questions. Please feel free to invite other family members and/or professionals who work with your child. Families also receive an information package with information on how to access funding if their child receives a diagnosis of autism.

Within 30 days of the feedback meeting, you will receive a report that will cover the assessment outcomes, diagnoses, and practical recommendations for interventions specific to your child's strengths and challenges.

What happens if my child is not diagnosed with autism?

BCAAN provides assessments and recommendations for all children and youth we see, regardless of the final diagnosis. If a child is not diagnosed with autism, he or she may still need help. We will make specific recommendations, and will help you to get the services your child needs, including developmental, mental health, education, and social supports, among others.

More information

Find the registry of autism service providers by visiting AIS BC.

Find out about the diagnostic process by visiting the ACT website and read chapter one of the ACT Autism Manual.

Resources to consider for children with delays or concerns regarding language and social thinking

Each resource has a large selection of free articles and strategies within the website. Many also have resources that can be bought. Please see each specific website for details.

Children aged 7 and under

  • Hanen: A non-profit organization developed by Speech Therapists (SLPs) based in Toronto and widely used in Canada. Focus: children with language delays, includes strategies to promote social thinking/skills and language development.
  • U of Florida - First Word Project: Targets kids primarily under 3 yrs of age with some material for children aged 3-6. Discussion and tools regarding screening for ASD, explanation of development, and different therapies.
  • Zero to Three: Provides information regarding typical child development across all domains.

Children, youth and pre-adults

  • Social Thinking: Developed by SLPs, with collaborated material by psychologists widely used in BC. Appropriate for ages 4 to adulthood. Works with kids with or without ASD, and all aspects of social thinking, perspectives, sharing, and theory of mind.
  • Stuart Shanker - MEHRIT: A website regarding self regulation that has a variety of resources for parents and teachers.
  • Do2Learn: Focus: Contains practical suggestions, strategies and activities regarding social thinking, behaviours, and academics for children and youth ages 4 and up.
  • Sandbox Learning: Provides resources for kids and youth with special needs. Most articles are 1-2 pages in length and contain a simple activity and explanation.
  • Harvard Centre for the Developing Child: Explanations and materials regarding executive functioning from infancy and beyond.
  • SHHC and BCCH Family Resource Centre: Resources that can be searched and requested online and mailed to families for a 3 week loan period via pre-paid postage.
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Complex Developmental Behavioural Conditions (CDBC)

How can I get my child assessed?

  • Make an appointment with your family doctor to talk about your concerns.
  • Your doctor may refer your child or youth to a Pediatrician or Psychiatrist to rule out possible medical causes for delays and difficulties.
  • If Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) or other Complex Developmental Behavioural Conditions (CDBC) are suspected, a medical practitioner can make a referral to the NHAN clinic for a comprehensive diagnostic assessment using our referral form.

How long will I have to wait for an assessment?

There are varying wait times for an assessment, but we will do everything we can to see your child as soon as possible and will work with you to find other resources to meet your needs while you wait.

What happens during the intake process?

You can help the intake process by supplying the NHAN clinician with any of your child's previous records you may have available such as:

  • developmental history
  • school report cards and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
  • speech and language, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and psychology reports
  • other assessment and progress reports by community service providers

If you don't have access to these reports, the NHAN clinician will obtain them with your permission.

Prior to the assessment it is recommended that your child have:

  • a vision exam
  • a hearing test

What will the assessment involve?

The NHAN clinical team will complete a comprehensive diagnostic assessment, which may or may not include the following:

  • Pediatrics: A pediatrician is a medical doctor who is trained to diagnose and manage the special needs of children and adolescents.
  • Psychology: The psychologist will work with you and your child to assess strengths and weaknesses across a number of areas. These include the assessment of cognitive abilities, academic achievement, attention, memory, planning, problem solving, personal care, social skills, and mental health concerns.
  • Speech Language Pathology (SLP):  the speech language pathologist will look at your child’s ability to understand spoken language, to speak to others using words, sentences, explanations and narrative reporting, to use appropriate gestures, body language and facial expressions and to manage the communication demands of social situations. Your child’s auditory memory, speed of verbal processing, speech sound production and oral motor skills may also be assessed.

What happens after the assessment?

After the assessment is completed, the assessment team will meet with your family to explain results, provide diagnoses, make recommendations, and answer questions. Please feel free to invite other family members and/or professionals who work with your child.

Within 30 days of the feedback meeting, you will receive a report that will cover the assessment outcomes, diagnoses, and practical recommendations for interventions specific to your child's strengths and challenges.

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