What Makes a Good Autism Assessment?

Researchers and clinicians in the field of autism and autism spectrum disorders (e.g. Asperger’s Disorder) consistently identify the following things as essential to a quality autism assessment.

1.Clinician should gather background information, previous evaluations, and interventions.
The practitioner should gather information about all aspect’s of a child’s development including health,developmental milestones, school, social, and family history. Any previous testing or evaluations should be reviewed as well as any current or past IEP’s (Individualized Education Plans).

2.Information should be considered about a child’s primary language or culture.

3.Child primary caregiver or parent should be interviewed about specific behaviors/symptoms (e.g. Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised, ADI-R)

4.Child should be directly observed using standardized autism test (preferable, Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, (ADOS)-gold standard in autism assessment)

5.Cognitive/Intellectual/Developmental Assessment

6.Assessment of Adaptive (self-help skills) Functioning

7.Medical assessment (including hearing evaluation)

8.More than one session meeting with and observing child

9.Consider other possible diagnoses
(anxiety, hearing impairment, sensory processing issues, speech and language delays)

10.Feedback to parents This should include review of all the test findings, how they fit together to paint a picture of the child’s strengths and challenges, diagnosis, how child meets diagnosis, and clear recommendations for additional intervention.

Additional Areas that may need to be assessed for intervention planning during an autism assessment:
• Communication: Speech & Language
• Motor Skills & Sensory Processing
• School Functioning
• Behavioral Functioning
• Family Functioning & Coping Resources