WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD)?
To meet diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) according to DSM-5, a person must have persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction, in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, and deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships, and a pattern of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities across multiple contexts.
Why And When Should Children Get Tested?
With autism it is so important to have an early diagnosis so that treatment can start early. By the age of 14 months if early milestones are delayed such as speech and language, social skills, and gross and fine motor skills, it is important to schedule a full evaluation to see what is causing the delay. You want to make sure that your child is tested by a neuropsychologist who specializes in testing for autism as soon as possible.
What Is The Best Way To Diagnose Autism In Children And Adults?
Although you can speak to your pediatrician or neurologist about your symptoms, it is important to get a full evaluation by a neuropsychologist that specializes in assessments for ASD, because many other disorders present with similar symptoms. The evaluation will vary depending on the age of the individual. Our team utilizes a comprehensive battery including the assessment of developmental and intellectual functioning such as the Bayley or the WPPSI-IV, WISC-V or WAIS-IV. Parents and teachers complete questionnaires such as the CARS-2, SRS-2, BASC-3, BRIEF-2, Vineland-3 and the Sensory Profile to assess for symptoms of Autism, emotional and behavioral problems, executive and adaptive functioning. We also use the ADOS-2, which is included as part of a larger testing battery. Additional tests may be added based on symptoms discussed during the initial interview.
My Pediatrician or Neurologist already diagnosed my child with Autism. Why does my child need another test?
A pediatrician will usually complete a developmental screening test that shows “Red Flags” for Autism. The physician will look at things like how the child speaks, moves, behaves and learns. A delay in one of these areas could indicate a possible issue. A neurologist will typically provide a “Medical Diagnosis” of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Your child's doctor will then recommend them for a more comprehensive evaluation including ADOS testing. ADOS testing is considered the "gold standard" of autism testing and is included as part of a larger test battery. Our Neuropsychologists at Florida Neuropsychology Associates are experts in the field and skilled at assessing and accurately diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Are There Other Things To Rule Out When An Individual Is Experiencing Symptoms Of ASD?
Both mental health and medical diseases may mimic ASD, such as seizure disorders so it is important to speak to your physician to rule out those and other possible medical conditions. Our testing will be able to assess whether ADHD, learning disabilities, anxiety or mood disorders are present and if further evaluation is needed.
What If It’s More Than ADHD And I’ve Only Asked For ASD Testing?
In our initial meeting we will discuss all of the symptoms you or your child are having to decide what testing we will do. We are prepared to provide you with an accurate diagnosis and our team has the skills and the testing materials needed to do that.
What Happens If My Child Is Diagnosed with Autism?
If your child is diagnosed with ASD they will be eligible for an IEP plan which is a legal document with goals, modifications and accommodations that the school needs to strictly adhere to. Your child may also qualify for additional services such as speech and language therapy and occupational therapy.
There are also Behavioral Approaches such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA therapy can be done in a center or at your home or your child’s school and the purpose is to encourage desired behaviors and discourage undesired behaviors.
There are no specific medications to treat ASD but medication can be used to help manage high energy levels, inability to focus, or self-harming behavior, such as head banging or hand biting. Medication can also help manage co-occurring psychological conditions, such as anxiety or depression, in addition to medical conditions such as seizures, sleep problems, or stomach or other gastrointestinal problems. Special diets, herbal supplements, and chiropractic care may also be suggested.
Psychological Approaches- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT) can be used to help individuals change how they react to situations. Family and parenting counseling can also be useful to help families to adjust to the needs of the ASD individual.