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ASD Assessment Query


Dr Simon Bird offers clinical, legal and consultation services in Bristol, Bath, North Somerset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and South Wales. He established Formulate Psychology LLP in 2019, having previously worked with colleagues in a larger network of psychologists offering Expert Witness work.  


Dr Bird worked within the NHS as a Clinical Psychologist between 1996 and 2018, but now works exclusively in independent practice. He provides Expert Witness assessments to the Family Courts, in addition to assessments for individual families and corporate clients. He has extensive experience of working across the 0-18 age range, offering assessment and interventions for most mental health and behaviour difficulties. However, his primary area of clinical expertise is Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and he held a post as lead psychologist for ASD across Bristol Child Health between 2016 and 2018. 


Dr Bird is eligible for chartered status through the British Psychological Society. He is regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Dr Katherine Donnelly has been working in the field of mental health since 2011. She completed a PhD in developmental psychology before qualifying as a clinical psychologist, specialising in work with children, adolescents, and families. Dr Donnelly has particular expertise with attachment, looked after children, families on the edge of care, youth offending and safeguarding, having worked in an NHS attachment service between 2018 and 2023. Between 2021 and 2023 Dr Donnelly developed the clinical model and worked as the lead clinician at a children’s residential home in Gwent. This was a pioneering collaboration between the NHS and Social Care with a focus on caring for young people with some of the most complex needs in the region. 


Dr Donnelly uses a range of specialist assessment methods and interventions to work individually with children, adolescents, and parents. She has provided consultation to professionals within the social care, health, education, and youth justice sectors and to members of the Senedd (Welsh Parliament). She has also completed and published research on parenting and attachment-based interventions. Dr Donnelly now works exclusively to provide expert witness assessments and reports in the family and criminal courts. She is eligible for chartered status through the British Psychological Society and is regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).


Dr Bird has provided complex assessments and formulations to the Family Courts since 2008.  These reports are typically commissioned in the context of care proceedings or pre-proceedings, or where there are intractable disputes between separated parents around contact with their children.  


Dr Bird has led and contributed to assessments of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) since 2000.  He is trained in the use of standardised assessment tools including the 3Di and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule Second Edition (ADOS-2).  In independent practice, Dr Bird works alongside his colleague Dr Jonathan Jones to assess ASD in line with NICE guidance. Drs Bird and Jones specialise in complex assessments where issues of gender, family relationships and learning issues make the process of diagnosis more challenging.



Background, training and approach

Dr Bird began work as a Trainee Clinical Psychologist in 1996 and graduated from the Plymouth University clinical psychology doctoral training programme in 1999.  He worked in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Bristol between 2000 and 2016.  Between April 2016 and March 2018, he worked as the lead psychologist for children and young people with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, but now works exclusively in private practice.  He is eligible for chartered status through the British Psychological Society.  He is regulated by the Health Professions Council (HPC).


Simon is formally trained in the identification of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and offers independent assessments of these conditions alongside experienced colleagues.  He also specialises in the clinical assessment of adolescents and young adults with mental health difficulties, particularly where these difficulties are co-existent with Autism Spectrum concerns.  He has experience of the majority of common mental health difficulties and has also worked with young people with learning disabilities, drug and alcohol dependency and complex developmental difficulties.


Simon has undertaken medico-legal work on a private basis since 2001, and has to date prepared over 300 expert witness reports for criminal and civil proceedings, primarily in relation to children and young people.  He is skilled in the use of formal assessment tools used to address questions of capacity and responsibility, including IQ assessments and mental health screening tools.  He has extensive experience of interview-based assessments.

Dr Bird also provides advice and consultation to services working with young people with complex mental health and developmental difficulties.  He undertakes targeted pieces of assessment work in situations where the origin of a young person's difficulties might be unknown.  These assessments include one-off meetings with parents; school consultations; and direct assessments of a child or young person's cognitive, social and emotional functioning.  


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