An autism psychological evaluation is a type of mental health assessment used to determine whether a person has a neurodevelopmental disorder such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These types of mental health assessments are conducted by a psychologist or psychiatrist, and may include observations of the patient’s behavior, in terms of emotional and behavioral functioning, social functioning, and intellectual functioning. Interviews with relatives and friends, as well as information from the intake forms will also be taken into account.
Did You Know?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2020), it is estimated that 1 in 54 children currently have an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Does my child need to be evaluated for ASD?
Your child may need to be evaluated for ASD if their pediatrician or other medical provider recommends having them evaluated. Additionally, if your child is displaying early signs of ASD, then they may benefit from an evaluation. Early signs of ASD can include:
- Not babbling by 12 months
- Not gesturing (pointing, waving bye-bye) by 12 months
- No single words by 16 months or two word phrases by 24 months
- Avoiding eye contact
- Having little interest in other children or caretakers
- Major upsets caused by minor incidents
However, ASD can have a wide range of symptoms, depending where on the “spectrum” an individual falls. If you and your child’s pediatrician agree that an evaluation would be beneficial, then an assessment for ASD can be scheduled with a psychologist at CPST Texas.
What can be expected when attending an ASD evaluation?
ASD evaluations often span over multiple sessions for an extended period of time. The direct face to face assessment portion of the evaluation will range from 8 to 10 hours. As a result, evaluations often occur over at least two sessions scheduled about two weeks apart. This is determined by the information gathered from the initial evaluation appointment as well as the patient’s tolerance level.
During your child’s autism psychological evaluation, a psychologist at CPST Texas will assess the following areas:
- Developmental & medical history
- Social skills & developmental behavior
- Emotional & behavioral functioning
- Communication & language ability
- Adaptive behavior
- Executive functioning
A feedback session with a typed final report consisting of findings, summary, diagnosis, and recommendations including potential resources, is also included.
It may be requested that the patient undergo a speech evaluation to assess for a specific communication disorder or genetic testing to rule out any genetic disorders attributing to exhibited behaviors. A neurological evaluation, a formal vision and/or hearing exam may also be recommended based on observed behaviors and information provided. Lastly, based on the patient’s behavior such as extensive mouthing and chewing of inedible objects, he/she may benefit from lead screening.
What happens if my child is diagnosed with ASD?
If your child is diagnosed with ASD, implementation of evidence-based intervention services are recommended to begin as soon as possible. Early intervention has been found to improve an individual’s development and overall quality of life. Many children on the spectrum do very well in therapy and our psychologists at CPST Texas will help develop specific recommendations for you and your child, as well as provide information to resources. There is a variety of approaches available for individuals with ASD. Here are some common treatment approaches.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA):
An ABA therapist will use positive reinforcement to increase appropriate behaviors and decrease challenging behaviors.
Developmental Individual-Difference Relationship-Based Model (DIR):
This approach focuses on building communication between the child and parents or caregivers. This approach is also sometimes called “floortime therapy” since it uses play to encourage increasingly complex interactions.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that helps the patient learn how to cope with anxiety and stress. CBT can be very effective, particularly with individuals who are diagnosed with ASD and have other mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. CBT helps individuals change how they think about a situation and the behavioral component helps individuals change how they react to a situation.