Deciding to complete an Autism Evaluation is difficult for many people. In addition, there is a great deal of confusion about what an Autism Diagnosis really means. Hopefully, after reading this article you will gain clarification around whether it would be helpful for you to pursue and Autism evaluation.
Characteristics of Those on the Autism Spectrum
Just like all other people, no two people on the Autism Spectrum are alike. Those on the Autism Spectrum tend to struggle with having back-and-forth conversations. They may enjoy talking, but they primarily talk about their own interests. They may have difficulty making eye-contact, not use gestures when they communicate, or not have the full range of facial expressions. People on the Autism Spectrum often struggle to develop, maintain, and understand relationships.
As children they typically lack imaginative play. In addition, people on the Autism Spectrum may struggle with change in plans and routine. Transitions are often difficult and they may have rigid thinking patterns. They typically have highly fixated interests. They want to talk about the same things consistently. Those on the Autism Spectrum may also consistently spend their time doing the same activities. Many people on the Autism Spectrum are sensitive to sensory input such as sounds or textures. Some are also seekers of sensory input such as smells or touching of objects. Finally, there are people on the Autism Spectrum who engage in repetitive motor movements or repetitive speech.
Completing an Autism Evaluation: What it entails
When completing a comprehensive Autism evaluation a thorough parent interview is completed (called the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised or ADI-R). If possible this is even completed with adults who are seeking an Autism Evaluation. The ADI-R asks questions about childhood development. Through the questions on the ADI-R the evaluator can determine whether someone’s early development is consistent with an Autism Diagnosis.
In addition to the ADI-R, the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition (ADOS-2) is administered with the person who is completing the Autism Evaluation. It is an interactive assessment that pulls for behaviors those on the Autism Spectrum have difficulty with. The person completing the Autism Evaluation then gets scored on their ability to demonstrate skills.
During a thorough Autism Evaluation, it is also important to test for other challenges. For example, many people who are on the Autism Spectrum also struggle with attention, focus, organization, and impulsivity. It is important to evaluate these skills, which are call executive functions. Executive functions are also what those with ADHD struggle with.
It is also important to evaluate for emotional well-being. For example, many people who are on the Autism Spectrum also struggle with anxiety. It is important to look at this so helpful interventions can best be chosen. Finally, it is helpful for the person completing the Autism Evaluation to take an intelligence test. The intelligence test we use at MVP measures a person’s ability to learn new information visually and verbally. It also measures a person’s ability to utilize their working memory and processing speed. It is helpful to understand someone’s learning profile to the best support systems can be put in place.
Ways an Autism Diagnosis Can Help:
Obtaining an Autism evaluation and Autism diagnosis can help facilitate understanding. Through a thorough Autism evaluation you will understand strengths and areas of needed support. Once an Autism Diagnosis is made, you will have a road map at to what interventions research indicates are most effective for those on the Autism Spectrum as well as the specific strengths and weakness of the person completing the evaluation. An Autism evaluation and Autism Diagnosis can open the door to being able to receive support at school, through vocational services, as well as possibly getting greater coverage of services through insurance.
If you are interested in completing an Autism Evaluation, give us a call at 720-583-9332. We are happy to answer any questions you may have!
Although there are people who come from out of state to complete an assessment, most people we serve live in the Denver Metro area including, Englewood, Lone Tree, Parker, Highlands Ranch, Castle Rock, Littleton, Aurora, Lakewood, Greenwood Village, & Centennial.
Written by Dr. Steffanie Stecker
Dr. Steffanie Stecker a licensed psychologist and the owner and clinical director of Mountain Vista Psychology, PLLC.
In addition, she is a board certified neurotherapist (BCN E5669) and board certified in QEEG (QEEG-D). Less than 100 people world wide are board certified in QEEG, which indicates competency in reading QEEGs and choosing neurofeedback protocols. Dr. Stecker is passionate about brain based effective therapy and creating a safe relationship for her clients to create change. She loves what she gets to do each day!