Evaluation for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Autism spectrum disorder is a relatively new term referring to children and adults who exhibit varying degrees of autistic-like behaviors. Depending on the numbers, severity, and frequency of these behaviors, individuals may function at the low or high end of this spectrum. Some individuals on the “high end” used to be labeled Asperger Syndrome. This diagnostic term is no longer used. Autistic-like behaviors can include:
- Speech delay
- Communication and social interaction difficulties
- Repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior
- Qualitative differences in facial expression, eye contact, and tone of voice
- Auditory, visual, or tactile hypersensitivity
- Unusual preoccupations and/or excessive obsession with objects or topics of interest
- Lack of interest in playing with other children, or in adults, socializing
- Difficulty relating to others, particularly same-age peers
- Insistence on sameness and resistance to changes
- Gross and/or fine motor skills weaknesses
- Difficulty reading nonverbal cues from others
- Concrete, literal thinking and interpretation
- Anxiety, depression, “meltdowns” when frustrated
Evaluation for child or adult
An evaluation consists of behavioral observations and diagnostic interviews with the individual, parents (for children) or a significant other (for adults), a behavioral and developmental history, and completion of standardized behavior rating scales by parents or a significant other. Although there are no tests to diagnose autism spectrum disorders, a learning disability evaluation may be recommended as a high percentage of these individuals have some type of learning difficulty or disability.
A specific protocol with various components is required by school districts to qualify students for services under Autism Spectrum Disorder. This evaluation results in a written report that includes recommendations for various appropriate treatments, interventions, educational accommodations, and community resources. Evaluations are accepted in both public and private schools, colleges and universities.
Fees for these evaluations are variable based on the individual’s age, and purpose for the evaluation (e.g., providing documentation for a school district, educational accommodations, etc.). Fees are based on time spent on review of records, interviews, observations, testing, test supplies, scoring and interpretation of data, report writing, and a follow-up session to discuss findings.