What to Expect at an Autism Evaluation
For parents of a child who may have autism, an autism evaluation can be a difficult and overwhelming process. Knowing what to expect during the evaluation can help alleviate some of those feelings. From understanding the purpose of the evaluation, knowing what types of tests will be used, and considering accommodations that might be necessary – we’ll take you through all aspects so you feel ready when the day comes.
Early diagnosis of autism can be an important step in helping a child reach their full potential. Early diagnosis and intervention can help identify areas where a child needs additional support and can help in the development of a successful treatment plan. It can also provide families with access to resources and support that may not be available without a diagnosis. Additionally, in order to have services covered by insurance, they typically require a medical diagnosis. This is why seeking an autism evaluation for your child is so important.
Autism evaluations are typically performed by a team of qualified professionals including psychologists, psychiatrists, developmental pediatricians, or physicians. Each member of the team will assess your child’s medical history, abilities, and behavior in order to provide an accurate diagnosis.
Autism assessments may be divided into multiple sessions. During the evaluation, the evaluator will assess a variety of factors such as communication skills, social interaction, and behavior. This is often done through observation, testing, and interviewing. Depending on your child’s age, the team may administer tests such as language assessments, IQ tests, and motor skills screenings.
Parents should expect to provide information about their child’s development and medical history including any medical or school records such as IEP, evaluation report, etc. Parents should also come prepared with notes from any caregivers and teachers as well so that the evaluator can understand behavior across different settings.
Once the direct portion of the evaluation is completed, you can expect the evaluator to complete a comprehensive report which summarizes the findings of the evaluation, the diagnosis (if any), and recommendations for relevant services. Due to the comprehensive nature of the evaluation, reports can take typically 3-4 weeks to complete.
If your child has any special needs, it is important to let the evaluation team know ahead of time so they can make any necessary accommodations. This may include providing additional breaks, allowing them to take breaks from tasks, or providing visual aids and other materials that can help make the evaluation process easier.
When it comes to autism screenings, there are a variety of tools that can be used. Common assessments include the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), the Screening Tool for Autism in Toddlers and Young Children (STAT), the Child Autism Rating Scale (CARS), and the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT-R/F). Based on your concerns and your child’s medical history, the evaluation team will determine which assessment tools are most appropriate.
The length of an autism evaluation varies depending on the age and abilities of the child. The direct testing portion of an autism evaluation can take anywhere from two to eight hours but may be longer if more tests are needed. Oftentimes the evaluation team will break up the direct testing across different days or times to ensure the most accurate results.
If you are looking for an autism evaluation provider in Texas, we can help. Empower Behavioral Health provides comprehensive in-person and virtual autism evaluations for individuals of all ages. Our autism assessments are performed by a licensed Psychologist and results are delivered within a few weeks. Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.