For many parents, it can be scary when one of their children is showing signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As daunting as it is, taking quick and proper actions to get a clear diagnosis and creating a plan is critical. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone
We’ve created a parents’ guide to autism evaluation so that you can get the resources you and your family need as soon as possible. In this piece, we’ll cover the following:
- What is done for an autism evaluation?
- Signs of ASD in children
- When is it time to get an autism diagnosis?
- Who can perform an autism diagnosis?
- How to get an autism diagnosis
- Why is ABA therapy the best treatment for autism?
Use this information to learn how you can best help your child get evaluated for autism – and what the next steps may be if necessary.
What is Done for an Autism Evaluation?
An autism evaluation is not a single test or a definitive lab result – it typically takes multiple steps to diagnose correctly.
To have your child evaluated for autism, the first step is to have them seen by a pediatrician or other medical professional who can create a documented description of your child’s observable behaviors.
From there, that doctor or clinician will refer you to a diagnostician for further evaluation, including developmental screening or a comprehensive evaluation. Ultimately, if an ASD diagnosis is a conclusion, your child will be referred for additional resources – and likely be encouraged to start Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy.
Signs of ASD in Children
Every child with autism is unique, and their symptoms may manifest differently at certain ages than others. However, there are some common signs of autism in children that, include:
- Avoiding physical touch
- Reclusive behaviors or wanting to be alone
- Showing disinterest in people or objects
- Avoiding eye contact
- Having difficulty expressing emotions or needs
- Difficulty or delays in verbal communication
These are just some signs of autism; they often present between 18-36 months, but people can be diagnosed with autism at any age.
When is it Time to Get an Autism Diagnosis?
While an autism diagnosis can happen any time after 18 months, the signs are not often clear immediately. This doesn’t mean parents should put their children through diagnostic tests or autism evaluations at the first small sign, but early intervention is critical.
Getting a proper assessment and autism evaluation from the proper medical professionals is imperative so that your support team operates at the highest level. Make sure to speak with your family pediatrician or a reputable medical professional to start the process of an autism diagnosis.
Who Can Perform an Autism Diagnosis?
Due to the multiple-step process of diagnosing autism and the individual manifestation of symptoms in each unique child, it is essential to work with experienced medical professionals to help get a diagnosis.
Some of the most qualified experts who can perform the components of an autism diagnosis include;
- Pediatric psychologists or psychiatrists
- Developmental specialists
- Speech-language therapists (SLP)
- Autism clinicians
- Pediatricians or family doctors
- Early intervention state programs
It is always important to ensure that the proper information is conveyed from one medical office to another. Keep detailed notes of your child’s behaviors that led you to pursue a diagnosis, and whenever you are approaching a new office for an autism evaluation, have a clear discussion about their practices and programs that they recommend.
How to Get an Autism Diagnosis
Autism is non-lab diagnosable, which means the process will take multiple evaluations and the trained eye of several medical and mental health experts. Autism diagnosis requires a medical professional to start, and the progression of a diagnosis often includes:
1. Behavioral screening
2. Comprehensive diagnostic evaluation
3. M-CHAT-R screener*
4. Autism clinic evaluation
Because autism is a spectrum disorder, it can take multiple opinions to get a proper diagnosis over varying periods. We highly recommend seeking out the top autism clinic near you to create a specific plan of action for your child – both during and after diagnosis, if necessary.
Why is ABA Therapy the Best Treatment for Autism?
If you work with a reputable autism clinic, your child will likely be enrolled in ABA therapy for autism. Applied Behavioral Analysis is considered the gold standard for autism treatment and an evidence-based approach.
ABA treatment for autism uses specific data from your child’s behaviors and environments to create tangible change through positive reinforcement. The behaviors ABA clinicians often focus on include:
- Social skills
- Fine motor mechanics
- Speech and language comprehension
- Learning skills
- Self-harm reduction
The best ABA clinics will create a unique framework for your child that can be applied across multiple environments. Similarly, you, your family, educators, and other medical professionals will be able to work within that framework to be part of a strong support group that can help your child maximize their potential and be happier throughout their life.
Get the Best Autism Treatment in Arizona at Ally Pediatric
At Ally Pediatric, we know how difficult it can be to face an autism diagnosis. We aim to answer as many questions as possible and provide our help for your child and family at every turn.
If you are interested in learning more about an autism diagnosis or how to enroll your child in ABA therapy, please reach out to us today. We’re here to help.