What Can You Expect From an Autism Evaluation?
There are a few assessments that are used to determine if your child displays any autistic characteristics. Some of those assessments include, but are not limited to, ADOS-2 (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule), ADI-R (Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised), CARS-2, and many more. At Waypoints, we use two major assessments because the reliability and validity for determining a diagnosis that can be developed with these assessments are combined during observation.
The ADOS-2 includes five modules, each requiring just 40 to 60 minutes to administer. The individual being evaluated is given only one module, selected based on his or her expressive language level and chronological age. These modules include:
- Toddler Module—for children between 12 and 30 months of age who do not consistently use phrase speech
- Module 1—for children 31 months and older who do not consistently use phrase speech
- Module 2—for children of any age who use phrase speech but are not verbally fluent
- Module 3—for verbally fluent children and young adolescents
- Module 4—for verbally fluent older adolescents and adults1
You can expect small programs that will be administered to observe your child’s behavior to stimuli. The purpose of this evaluation to identify if a child is developmentally on track. Observation from skills that develop at specific times in the lifespan will help determine if there is a need for improvement in certain areas.
Once the observation is complete, a report is developed and sent to an ABA agency (if ABA is recommended by professionals or requested by the family). The agency would then review the report and determine if another assessment is needed to narrow down the specific areas of improvement. Typically, BCBAs will conduct VB-MAPP assessment to identify the specific problems and create programs that help improve those identified problems.
Here is an example of the skills that are observed for Module 3:
- Construction Task
- Make-Believe Play
- Joint Interactive Play
- Demonstration Task
- Description of a Picture
- Telling a Story From a Book
- Conversation and Reporting
- Social Difficulties and Annoyance
- Friends, Relationships, and Marriage
- Creating a Story
What Happens During the Observation?
During the observation, the examiner focuses on how the individual responds to certain tasks. If the individual is not performing a task as they should at their age, then it can be inferred there is some developmental delay in that specific area.
For example, the examiner could ask the individual to demonstrate how to wash their hands. The individual should be able to speak and gesture the actions in order and with detail such that if the examiner did not already know how to wash hands, they now will (based on the individual’s demonstration). However, if the individual cannot gesture and speak through the steps, they likely have some delayed development.
Each task is performed and then the examiner records their observations to develop a comprehensive report that details all tasks and how the individual performed on them. The examiner either determines a diagnosis or suggests more testing is required to make an accurate diagnosis.
At Waypoints, we aim to make sure families understand the process of the assessments and provide ample information to ensure families are prepared for testing. We strive to make testing as naturalistic as possible so it more closely resembles the real world. Our goal is to make families aware and able to function as best as possible in the world.
Autism Evaluations in West Michigan and Ottawa County
According to their 2017 health needs assessment, Ottawa County declared our region to be a caring, giving, and philanthropic community with a wealth of excellent resources, programs, and services, a robust volunteer force, and strong collaborative spirit among people and organizations. Waypoints Life’s mission is to provide compassionate services and professional resources to families with members who have been diagnosed with autism. With such a large supportive community, Waypoints can provide their families with all the necessary materials required to thrive in society.
At Waypoints, we prioritize learning skills and accomplishing goals, so we conduct an assessment to identify the current baseline for your child as we seek to teach the tools they need to succeed.3 We’re committed to equipping children, youth, and their families with the tools they need to navigate life skillfully after an autism diagnosis. Diagnostic testing is the compass that guides this journey.2 After testing, we want to provide families with all the tools they need to guide them throughout the lifespan.
Between our work here at Waypoints and other resources in West Michigan and Ottawa County, we hope your family feels the support that is available for you. If there is anything we can do for you and your family—whether that means providing an autism evaluation or using ABA techniques to help develop skills—please feel free to give us a call or connect online.
1. Mind Resources. (2022). Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2). https://www.mindresources.com/education/059902
2. Hill,M. (2017). 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment, Ottawa County, MI. Executive Summary and Key Findings. Page 20.
3. Waypoints Life. (2021). Diagnostic Assessments. https://waypoints.life/our-services/diagnostic-assessment/
Is It Worth Getting an Autism Diagnosis for My Child?
This is a common question for most families of children who might be autistic. Parents across the nation have both
Get in Touch With Waypoints
Whether you’re looking for diagnostic testing, one-on-one in-home ABA therapy and skill-building resources, or simply want to learn more about our unique approach, please don’t hesitate to reach out! (We love getting mail.)