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Autism Assessment and Autism Diagnosis
Spokane, WA

Are you wondering whether your child may have an Autism diagnosis or a diagnosis of PDD or Asperger Syndrome?  If you believe your child may have Autism, it’s important to find out quickly and move on to helping your child.

Don’t Wait! 
In general, the younger a child is when he or she receives appropriate help, the more effective that help may be.  In my practice for Autism in Spokane, WA, I find this “age curve” to be generally true.  For example, interventions at age 2 may have much more potential to help children than those given at age 4.   Those given at age 6 may be more effective than those at age 10.  And so on…  That doesn’t mean your child is “over the hill” at age 10, and all children respond individually, but, “The earlier, the better” is generally what experts recommend. 

So act quickly!

Where Could I Start?

All states are required to have a “Child Find” system for identifying children who may need early intervention services.  When you call your state’s Child Find phone number, you will typically be referred to your state’s Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (i.e., “Infant-Toddler Network,”  or “Birth to Three” center) if your child is younger than age 3, or to your local school district if your child is three or older.  Sometimes this can help you to get the above evaluations that you need.  Often it may be more expedient to take the lead and arrange them on your own.

It is wise to call an Autism specialist for an Assessment and Diagnosis appointment as soon as possible, as many have waiting lists.

A Typical Autism Assessment  for a Possible Autism Diagnosis
(Can Be Arranged Simultaneously)

Evaluation by pediatrician or family physician.  Get referrals if needed.  If your doctor tells you there is nothing to worry about, listen…but trust your instincts.
Hearing evaluation, if there are hearing concerns.
Speech and language evaluation. 
  • For children under 3, contact your state’s Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (i.e., “Infant-Toddler Network,” etc.).

  • For children ages 3 and older, can contact your school district’s Assessment Center.
Other Assessments recommended by your child’s healthcare team, if any, based on your child’s health history, family history and symptoms.  May include certain medical testing, genetic testing, or similar assessments to learn more about your child’s condition and potential treatment options.
Autism Diagnosis Assessment, by an Autism specialist or a team, to determine whether your child meets the criteria for one of the Autism diagnosis categories.  (See below).

Autism “Specialists” - Who Can Diagnose Autism, PDD, or Asperger’s?

In general, it is best to use a team approach in confirming an Autism Diagnosis (or one of PDD or Asperger Syndrome), but the reality is that most children are diagnosed by one Autism specialist or professional in their area.

The following Medical Doctors (M.D.’s) can usually provide a formal diagnosis: 

  • Child Neurologists
  • Child Psychiatrists
  • Developmental and Behavioral Pediatricians.

In some states, the following professionals may also make a diagnosis:

  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Clinical Social Workers

Always choose someone who is trained and experienced in working with children and in diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Your state may have particular laws about who can diagnose for the purpose of insurance reimbursement, receiving government funds (such as through a Department of Disabilities), and/or receiving school-based services (such as an individualized education plan).  For example, some states will allow a School Psychologist to diagnose for the purpose of education plans only.  To receive any federal benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (for low income families), a particular type of specialist from an “accepted” list may be required.  Sometimes one specialist can make a preliminary recommendation, but it needs to be confirmed by another kind of specialist.

Bottom line…check the requirements for your state.

Autism Diagnosis Assessment

The Autism specialist(s) will have you bring your child to the office, or less commonly will observe your child at home or elsewhere.  They may perform standardized testing as part of their Autism assessment.  At the end of that meeting, or more commonly within a short time, they will let you know whether your child meets the criteria for a diagnosis of Autism, PDD, or Asperger Syndrome.  They will usually  provide you with a short written report.  You will typically need written confirmation of your child’s diagnosis to utilize treatment services.

Can Parents Diagnose Autism?

The short answer is...no.  This diagnosis is complex and must be made by an experienced professional.  If you see behaviors of concern, or have identified some from the Autism Symptoms checklist, discuss your concerns with the Autism specialist and your child’s healthcare team.

Be Insistent!
Many parents have found that they need to be insistent and perhaps offer to take a cancellation slot in order to get their child in to the above professionals as quickly as possible.

It’s important not to wait!  If someone tells you to “wait and see” and your instincts tell you there is a problem, seek out another professional!  If someone tells you there is no problem, but again, your instincts tell you otherwise, seek out another professional!  Because information on Autism Spectrum Disorders is still so new to many physicians, families sometimes have to visit several practitioners before getting a definitive answer they feel is informed and sound.

Insist on early help – it can make all the difference!

Next Steps

If you have a child with Autism in Spokane, Washington State (or with PDD or Asperger Syndrome), Year For Change offers services for children and families.  Click for more information on a Therapy Goals Assessment and/or Treatment and Therapy.

Need more help?  Call  (509) 448-1506 or Click to Email 

Deborah Skalabrin, MSW, LICSW

701 W. 7th Avenue, Suite 15
Spokane, WA  99204
(509) 448-1506 - Phone
(509) 624-7500 - FAX

Copyright © 2009. Year for Change LLC. This site is for informational purposes only, not advice. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any condition.
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