If you believe that your child may have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), your first step should be to seek out an official diagnostic evaluation. If you’re like most parents, you probably have no idea what you should anticipate from this experience.
Here we answer common questions about what happens and what you can expect during an assessment:
Who will perform the assessment?
If you believe that your child is showing signs of ASD or a related disorder, your first step will be to schedule an appointment for your child to be evaluated by a professional. The initial evaluation is usually done by a clinical psychologist or pediatrician who has experience assessing individuals with ASD. In some cases, the evaluation may be made by a team of several specialists in different fields, such as a clinical psychologist, neurologist, and speech pathologist.
What happens during the assessment?
There is no single test that is used to diagnose ASD, so doing an accurate assessment requires a multifaceted approach. A comprehensive evaluation includes interviewing the parents, reviewing the child’s developmental history, and observing the child’s behavior. Moreover, assessing an individual for ASD will include vision and hearing evaluations. It may also include tests of genetic and neurological factors. A child may be observed across multiple settings, and other people who interact regularly with the child may be interviewed as well. This holistic approach helps to ensure an accurate diagnosis. The goal is not just to diagnose a condition, but to provide you with as much useful information as possible for ensuring your child’s health and happiness.
When do I find out the results of the assessment?
Typically, a diagnosis is not made at the time of your initial appointment. You may need to wait for the test results, and a follow-up assessment—or a referral to another specialist—may be required before a definite diagnosis can be made. If your child’s status changes during that time, or you notice any additional symptoms, contact the provider who performed the assessment as soon as possible so that this new information can be taken into account.