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What should I do if I believe my child may have Autism?

The first step is to obtain a diagnostic evaluation for ASD with a provider who specializes in ASD. ASD evaluations involve a parent/caregiver interview, and diagnostic measures that examine the presence or absence of the characteristics of ASD, and collaboration with school professionals and pediatricians. It is important to understand that there is no brain scan, blood test, or genetic test that will indicate whether or not your child meets criteria for diagnosis. While the research is growing every day and we may someday have a more definitive medical procedure for diagnosing, we’re not there yet.

What will an ASD Evaluation include?


Parent Intake: A parent intake interview will require more than one appointment and multiple questionnaires. The  "Autism Diagnostic Interview, Revised" (or ADI-R) is an interview that will be used that focuses on the developmental history of the child. A full medical history will be reviewed as well as academic records and social history. 

The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule™ (ADOS™-2): This is a standardized assessment of communication, social interaction, play, and restricted and repetitive behaviors in children. During an ADOS™-2 assessment, The examiner will interact directly with your child in social and play activities.The examiner will assess various responses to questions and stimuli and how he or she performs in imaginary play. The examiner will observe verbal and nonverbal communication and looks for specific characteristics that are hallmarks of autism spectrum disorder, such as difficulty with age-appropriate social interaction, circumscribed interests, or repetitive speech or behavior. This instrument is considered the gold-standard in ASD assessments. 

Cognitive Testing (as needed): If your child hasn't had any recent testing, a cognitive test will be administered. This type of testing is used to assess a person's abilities, including intellectual capacity, attention and concentration, processing speed, language and communication, visual-spatial abilities, and memory. 

Parent Feedback/Treatment Planning: The clinician will summarize findings from the assessment, review the written report and based on the evaluation the clinician will provide a diagnosis (if applicable). Parents will work with the clinician to determine what type of treatment would work best including parent training, in-person behavioral therapy, school consultation etc. If necessary, the clinician will also work with the school to advocate for the child and obtain appropriate help through the school district (through a 504 or an IEP).

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