If you are considering an autism assessment for your child, you may be concerned about helping them to cope with the assessment itself. The good news is that through careful preparation and consistent encouragement you can greatly enhance your child’s ability to manage the assessment process and ensure that useful insights and recommendations are gained.
If your child has been displaying symptoms that are in line with the autism spectrum, getting a detailed assessment and diagnosis can help you understand the severity of the condition and plan for the next steps in terms of obtaining the right care and support for them and the whole family.
Before beginning the process of autism assessment, it is essential for you to understand the potential difficulties and challenges your child may face when completing required tasks or attending interviews, so that you can support them in having a positive experience.
Understanding The Child Autism Assessment Process
The autism spectrum is complex and symptoms cannot be determined by your child completing a single, straightforward test. For this reason, child autism assessments typically involve a series of evaluations and tests performed by multidisciplinary teams or specialists during 2-3 appointments.
Most assessments involve direct interactions between the mental health professional and your child, typically structured in the form of play-based assessment procedures referred to as a Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). Some assessments may require your child to complete cognitive, or ‘thinking skill’ tests.
A comprehensive developmental evaluation process is performed by a developmental paediatrician, child psychologist, speech-language pathologist, or an occupational therapist. The process involves observation, structured tests and you will also be required to fill out questionnaires and provide required inputs regarding your child’s behaviour and development.
While different mental health professionals use a variety of assessment tools and techniques, the guidelines laid out by The National Autism Plan for Children specifies that the autism assessment for children should include:
- Reports from all relevant settings, such as your child’s school, or nursery
- An autism-specific developmental and family history assessment
- Observations of the child made over a few settings
- Cognitive, communication, behaviour and mental health assessments
- A detailed analysis of the family members’ needs and strengths
- A full physical examination of the child
- If applicable, additional tests and assessments for other conditions
Preparing Yourself For The Child ASD Assessment Process
The assessment process can take some time and be quite stressful for your child if they are not fully prepared for the sessions. It could be beneficial to plan ahead with these steps:
- Learn about Autism: Learning about the condition will help you prepare for what your child’s needs will be and also help you prepare with the required questions that you may need to ask the medical professionals who will be working with you and your child during the assessment process. You could refer to some of these useful resources to get you started:
- Prepare your child’s records: Have a detailed report of your child’s medical records ready, and any previous behavioural or developmental evaluations. Additionally, you could also record your observations of your child’s developmental and behavioural changes over a period of time, which could also be helpful to the assessment process.
- Ensure you have support: The process of assessment is not only time consuming but can be extremely emotionally draining and rather than go through it alone, having a family member or friend to accompany you during these tests.
- Seek intervention services: You do not have to wait for a diagnostic report to begin treatment but if your child would benefit from intervention services such as occupational, speech, social or physical therapy. You could refer to these resources, to begin with:
We understand that going through this process can be difficult and feel overwhelming. If you would like to speak to our caring staff to get more information or simply clear your doubts, we are happy to help.