Does your child struggle with communication or with social skills in general?  Do they have very specific interests, struggle with adapting to changes in routine, or have a hard time managing their emotions?  You may have wondered if your child is on the autism spectrum.  A proper diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) requires an evaluation.

Because each child with autism will present with a unique collection of symptoms, autism evaluations vary greatly in what they entail.  However, here are a few elements that are often included in an ASD evaluation:

  • Comprehensive interview to review developmental history
    • It is very important for the evaluator to obtain a thorough history on your child’s development, especially their speech/language and social development.
  • Assessment of intellectual skills (IQ Test)
    • This allows the evaluator to determine areas of cognitive strength and need.
  • Assessment of language skills
    • This includes an assessment of your child’s ability to express themselves using words as well as to listen and understand what others communicate to your child.
  • Assessment of behavioral and social/emotional functioning
    • This typically involves various rating scales administered to both parents and teachers as applicable. Some of these rating scales will assess specifically for the symptoms of autism, while others look at behavioral and emotional functioning more generally.  This can also involve some direct assessment measures with the child, such as assessing their ability to recognize emotions in others.
  • Assessment of adaptive skills
    • This includes assessment of your child’s ability to perform skills of daily living.
  • Many families hear of ADOS when beginning the journey of seeking an evaluation.
    • The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)
      • The ADOS includes a variety of tasks involving social interaction between the evaluator and the child in an office setting.
    • The ADOS is one of many tools that a trained evaluator can use to assess the symptoms of autism and aid in making a diagnosis, but it is not required for an Autism diagnosis. Just as there are several standardized assessments for IQ there are also several measures which assist an evaluator in gathering information regarding a potential Autism diagnosis.

At our practice, we have psychologists trained in evaluating, diagnosing and offering strength based recommendations for your child.  She assesses each area detailed above and collaborates with parents, teachers, and pediatricians to obtain a whole picture of your child. We can also help coordinate any additional services that are needed through the school.

Although no treatment has been shown to cure ASD, several interventions have been used with young children for many years and show great success. Interventions may reduce symptoms, improve cognitive ability and daily living skills, and maximize the ability of a child to function and participate in the community.

Per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, effective interventions include behavioral strategies focused on social communication and skill development. Behavioral strategies are particularly vital at young ages when the child would naturally be gaining these skills. Behavioral strategies are also helpful in reducing restricted interests and repetitive or challenging behaviors. For some children, occupational and speech therapy may be helpful, as could social skills training and medication in older children. The best treatment or intervention can vary depending on an individual’s age, strengths, challenges, and differences.

A psychologist or school psychologist can conduct the evaluation and make a diagnosis using a combination of the assessment procedures above. ASD can be detected in toddlers, however, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until early childhood. Some people are not diagnosed until they are adolescents or adults. This delay means that children with ASD might not get the early help and intervention they need. Reach out to us with any questions or concerns. We are happy to help guide you in determining if an Autism evaluation would be appropriate for your child.

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