How to Prepare for an Autism Evaluation

February 23, 2023 | Uncategorized

Autism evaluations can be an important part of understanding what a child or adult might need in terms of intervention for autism spectrum disorder. Preparing for an autism evaluation is key to helping physicians, psychologists, and caregivers get a clear picture of an individual’s symptoms, traits, and behaviors.

Before attending an evaluation, it is helpful to research which standard tests and procedures will be used for assessment, as well as keep records and notes about your child’s current behaviors. Additionally, gathering any relevant medical history can be beneficial in helping evaluators provide better insight. With the right preparation, parents and individuals can feel more confident going into their autism evaluation.

Understand the Diagnostic Criteria for Autism

In order to be diagnosed with autism, individuals typically must meet certain criteria related to social interaction, communication and behavior. It is helpful to familiarize yourself with the DSM-5 criteria for autism so that you can provide detailed information about any issues or behaviors your child is experiencing. The diagnostic criteria are broken down into two categories which include issues with social communication/interaction and restrictive or repetitive behaviors. An individual must have difficulties in three areas related to social communication and interaction, and two to four types of restrictive, repetitive behaviors.

Research Autism Assessments

Before attending an autism evaluation, it is important to research the different types of assessments that may be used. Autism assessments are used to measure issues related to cognitive function, language and communication, and social-emotional behavior. Knowing which assessments are being used will also give you an opportunity to ask detailed questions about why they are necessary, how they will be conducted and what the results may mean. This can help ensure that your concerns are thoroughly assessed so that any interventions or therapies recommended are tailored to your child’s specific needs.

Common diagnostic tests and assessments for autism include:

  • ADOS-2: Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule 2nd Edition
  • CARS-2: Childhood Autism Rating Scale 2nd Edition
  • GARS-3: Gilliam Autism Rating Scale 3rd Edition
  • M-CHAT-R/F: Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers
  • STAT: Screening Tool for Autism in Toddlers and Young Children

Prepare Notes of Behaviors

It is also important to make detailed notes and prepare questions for the evaluator before attending an autism evaluation. This can include descriptions of any behaviors or issues that you have observed in your child. While the evaluator may ask you more specific questions during the assessment, being prepared with detailed notes of behaviors can help ensure that your concerns are thoroughly addressed. This also ensures that your observed behaviors align with the diagnostic criteria for autism or other diagnoses (if applicable).

What to Bring to an Autism Assessment

When attending an autism evaluation, it is important to bring any relevant medical records and information. This may include reports from previous services, school or therapy evaluations or reports, and any other medical information that may be relevant. Bringing compiled notes from teachers, daycare staff, and other caregivers can also help paint a picture of behaviors in different environments. Additionally, it is important to complete any materials related to the evaluation such as questionnaires ahead of the evaluation.