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Does my child need an evaluation for autism spectrum disorder? 

You might want to consider an ASD evaluation if your child has any of the following symptoms, which are considered red flags or concerns in the course of a child’s development that may need further evaluation:

  • Social red flags:
    • Does not respond to name
    • Avoids eye-contact 
    • Prefers to play alone
    • Does not share interests with others
    • Only interacts to achieve a desired goal
    • Has flat or inappropriate facial expressions
    • No social smiles or joyful expressions directed at people
    • Does not understand personal space boundaries
    • Avoids or resists physical contact
    • Is not comforted by others during distress
    • Has trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about own feelings
  • Communication red flags:
    • Delayed speech and language skills
    • Repeats words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
    • Reverses pronouns (e.g., says “you” instead of “I”)
    • Gives unrelated answers to questions
    • Does not point or respond to pointing
    • Uses few or no gestures (e.g., does not wave goodbye)
    • Does not pretend in play (e.g., does not pretend to feed a doll)
    • Does not understand jokes, sarcasm, teasing, or others’ feelings
    • Any regression, loss of language, social skills, etc.
  • Behavioral red flags:
    • Lines up toys or other objects
    • Plays with toys the same way every time
    • Likes parts of objects (e.g., wheels)
    • Gets upset by minor changes
    • Has obsessive/narrow interests
    • Has to follow certain routines
    • Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles
    • Has unusual interest/aversion and often intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights, and/or colors

What to expect from an autism evaluation? 

  • The clinician will usually start with a clinical interview to gather information from the parent regarding the symptoms that may be related to autism spectrum disorder. 
  • The clinician will then evaluate the child in the office, using measures that help identify symptoms of ASD. 
  • At PSLLC, we use gold-standard assessment measures, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2) and Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R). The clinician may also ask those who interact with the child the most to complete questionnaires to assess the child’s social communication and behaviors.

If my child has autism, what can I do?

  • There are many avenues for treatment when a child receives a diagnosis. At PSLLC, the psychologist will create an individualized treatment plan for your child based on his or her needs. Every child with ASD is different, therefore, treatment can range from multiple therapies to psychoeducation about his or her differences. Therapies may or may not include speech therapy, social communication therapy, applied behavioral analysis, behavior therapy, behavior parent training, social skills training, occupational therapy, and accommodations or special education in school. What we do know is that supporting the child in those early developmental years is pivotal in order to achieve the best outcomes. 

Are there screening tools I can complete to see if an evaluation is necessary?