An autism evaluation will identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses to help shape their individualized plan for learning. Every child has a way of learning whether they are on the spectrum or not. At Harmony Autism Therapy our goal is to provide peace-of-mind through a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation. If you have questions, we help provide you with answers.
Autism Evaluations Process
We are proud to work with Dr. Christine Poulos of Back to Basics Pediatrics. Dr. Poulos begins the process of evaluating your child by conducting a medical exam. She will then do a comprehensive review of medical history, review of your child’s early development (including any plateaus or regression), and review of any current services and reports. Our Autism Specialist, with over 20 years of expertise in the field of autism treatment, will then utilize the “gold standard” of diagnostic assessments – The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule- Second Edition (ADOS-2). After the report is provided to Dr. Poulos, she will determine if your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The primary goal of comprehensive autism evaluations is to determine diagnosis, so that a thorough understanding of the child can be ascertained. A diagnosis gives clinicians a starting point to a profile of developmental skills that your child has in order to provide follow-up services. A comprehensive evaluation provides a diagnosis, recommendations and plan of action for treatment.
Autism evaluations include a review of relevant records, a standardized parent interview, a standardized observation measure, cognition or developmental assessment and a written report for future reference.
What is an Autism Evaluation?
A comprehensive autism evaluation includes information from a variety of sources to determine if a child meets criteria for autism spectrum disorder. Sources include a thorough review of medical and related history, direct observation of the child, interviews with parents/guardians and others who see the child on a daily basis, a standardized measure (assessment) of global development (assesses areas such as communication, play, social, cognitive, and motor skills) and a standardized assessment that is specifically designed to rule-out autism spectrum disorder.
Who diagnoses autism?
Only a qualified, licensed medical professional (i.e., physician, clinical psychologist) is allowed to diagnose a child with autism spectrum disorder. Assessments (tests) are conducted by evaluator(s) who are skilled in the assessment tools used. The evaluator shares all of the child’s information with the doctor. Information includes what was collected as part of direct observation, assessments, interviews and other relevant details. Then, the information is shared with the diagnostic team and a diagnosis, if any, is determined.
How long does the evaluation take?
The time spent on an evaluation is usually 8-12 hours. Most of the time is spent in reviewing documentation, conducting assessments, interviewing, and report writing.
How long will it take before receiving results?
We love answering this question! You may be hearing that other places have wait lists of 6-9 months. At Harmony Autism Therapy, we know that if your child needs help, he or she does not have that time to wait before he or she can start to get treatment.
This is where Dr. Poulos from Back to Basics Pediatrics steps in. She was hearing from many of her families about these long wait lists after providing referrals. This inspired her to reach out to her community for a better option. Back to Basics and Harmony Autism Therapy decided to partner together to provide families autism evaluations in a timely manner.
In most cases, our autism evaluations are scheduled within 2-3 weeks and results are shared within 1-2 later. Therefore, the entire process usually takes 4-6 weeks, depending on the time of year.
What is the difference between a screening and evaluation?
We are often asked what is the difference between a screening and an evaluation. Screening tools are very short tests (2-10 minutes) that are primarily designed for pediatricians or other providers to identify children who are likely developing at a different rate when compared to same-aged peers. An ASD screening will include questions that are related to behavior and developmental delays that are typically found in children with ASD.
Autism Spectrum Disorder can be detected at as young as 18 months, sometimes younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable. However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until they are much older. This delay means that a child with ASD might not get the help he needs during the most critical time in brain development.
A screening is the first step before moving forward with a formal evaluation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics recommends that pediatricians screen all children for Autism at ages 18 and again at 24 months. If you are a parent and you are concerned about your child, the earlier you receive the screening, the sooner we can get started with therapeutic interventions.
The most common screening tool that helps identify the “red flags” of Autism is the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, or M-CHAT. The M-CHAT, like all other screening tools, does not diagnose Autism. Your child’s scores will help you decide on what steps you should take next. A diagnosis can only be made as a result of a comprehensive evaluation.
There are 3 possible results of the screening:
- Low risk
- Moderate risk
- High risk
If your child scores Moderate or High risk, a referral is made for a comprehensive evaluation.
What is an Evaluation?
The following is used to determine if your child meets criteria for ASD:
- Medical history
- Information shared by parent/guardian with pediatrician
- Screening details
- Direct observation
- Assessment tool (i.e, ADOS-2)
- )Rule-out other medical condition
The pediatrician reviews all of the information and determines if your child meets criteria for ASD.
Is this covered by insurance?
Without an official diagnosis obtained through a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified health provider (i.e., physician, clinical psychologist), insurance will not cover what is considered the “gold standard” of treatment by *medical and behavioral health agencies ….. – ABA therapy.
About Dr. Poulos
Dr. Christine Poulos has been in practice for 23 years as a board certified pediatrician, she brings expertise and compassionate care to you and your family. Her extensive medical knowledge combined with an ongoing curiosity to learn about the latest trends define her success in the medical field. She graduated with honors from Rush Medical College in 1992 and completed her internship and residency at The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. To learn more, visit https://www.drchristinepoulosmd.com/