Getting a diagnosis can be scary and overwhelming. Research shows receiving treatment as early as possible ensures the best outcome. With over our 25 years of experience in the field, thousands of our clients have thrived and reached their potential. Utilizing behavioral artistry, ACES ABA therapists provide comprehensive and individualized autism services in Torrance. With ACES' staff by your side your family can rest assured. Call to learn more today: (855) 917-4434
How to Obtain an Autism Diagnostic Evaluation
Do you suspect your child may have autism? Here are a few signs:
- By 6 months: Few or no big smiles or other warm, joyful and engaging expressions. Limited or no eye contact. Lack of sound-making and vocalizing to others.
- By 9 months: Little or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or facial expressions. Lack of imitated gestures such as waving or pointing.
- By 12 months: Lack of babbling that includes long and short chain sounds like “bababa”. Limited use of gestures such as reaching, showing, pointing, or waving. Little or no response to name. First words are not emerging or not increasing in use.
- By 16 months: In addition to the signs listed above, lacks consistent use of single words. Not saying “mama” and “dada” with the intent to gain attention. Does not turn pages of a book or give hugs to stuffed animals. Does not seek help to fix a toy or get an object. Lacks imitation of simple movements such marking paper with a crayon.
- By 24 months: Very few or no meaningful two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating). Limited pretend play and reduced interest in other children as compared with peers. Not following simple 1-part commands. Doesn’t comfort others in distress. Not showing pride in own accomplishments. Doesn’t calm within 15 minutes.
Between 2-3 years: Lacks interest in discovering “why” and “how”. Doesn’t consistently show interest in longer stories. Cannot identify own body parts. Not using three- and four word phrases to express self. Not comfortable with feeding utensils. Less interest in hugs and giving affection. Higher activity level than peers.
If your child has some of these signs, it does not mean your child has autism. However, you may want to talk to your pediatrician and consider getting a formal autism evaluation. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends autism screening between the ages of 14 and 24 months.
Obtain a Diagnostic Evaluation
- Ask your pediatrician to provide a diagnoses, or for a referral to obtain a diagnostic evaluation from a Neurologist, Developmental Psychologist or Developmental Pediatrician.
- Contact your Medical Insurance Company and ask for a list of in-network providers
- On the back of your insurance card you will find the member number, call the number you see there.
- Example of what you can say, “Hi my name is______, I would like to request for a diagnostic evaluation. Please advise me on the steps I need to take. Thank You.”
What to Expect
Once you receive a list of network providers, call to make your first appointment for a diagnostic evaluation. There may be a waitlist, so take first available appointment. An evaluation for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) must be completed by a Licensed Clinical Psychologist or a Medical Doctor. Developmental Psychologists typically know autism and are very thorough. Some parents seek help from a Neurologist and Developmental Pediatricians. (In some states, other licensed medical professionals may be allowed to make the diagnosis.)
Note: Some insurance companies may require a full Psychological Evaluation. (Please contact your insurance company for details) When evaluated by a psychologist, a combination of parent interview, developmental history, current levels of functioning and play with the child are used to reach a diagnosis. The “gold standard” of assessment is the ADOS-3: The Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale.
When evaluated by a physician, a combination of a symptoms checklist, observation, developmental history and current levels of functioning are usually used to reach a diagnosis. Conditions that sometimes mimic autism must be ruled out, including various genetic disorders, other developmental delays, severe speech and language delays and environmental factors.
While you are waiting you can do the following:
Contact the State of California Regional Center for Your County
- Regional Centers are state funded non-profit agencies responsible for contracting services for individuals with a disability.
- Locate the Regional Center in your county at: http://www.dds.ca.gov/RC/RCList.cfm or call (800) 515-BABY.
- Ask for the Intake Coordinator.
- Give details about your child and the concerns you have.
- Expect a home visit from your assigned Service Coordinator, or ask to meet at the Family Resource Center.
- Ask for information about Early Start, ABA/Behavioral Services, Speech, OT, Parent Training, Parent Respite, and Co-payment Support.
- Set up a Private Pay Contract.
- Call (855) 223-7123, and the forms will be sent to you. ACES will guide your next steps.
Contact Your School District Special Education Department
- Your child is eligible to start school at age 3.
- You can begin the enrollment process as soon as your child is 2 years, 9 months old.
Contact your School District’s main office, and request an educational evaluation. This will not be a medical diagnosis, but will help the school in determining if your child requires Special Education Services and will be the backbone of developing an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). To do this, write a letter to your local school or district. State that you suspect your child of having a disability, the reasons why, and request an evaluation. Do everything in writing, and keep copies!
- If your child is already a Regional Center client, your Service Coordinator (SC) will contact the school on your behalf. Verify this with your SC.
- Your child may be tested over multiple days by different evaluators as part of the intake process; they will guide you through this process.
- If you feel your child is not ready for Pre-K and needs intensive treatment for behavioral challenges, communication delays, and social interaction, contact ACES at (855) 223-7123 for information about a clinic-based option that provides 1-to-1 support in a small group setting.
Connect with Supports for Parents and Families
Autism Speaks is a comprehensive site for autism information, parent training tool kits, service providers, support networks, current research, fundraising, and political action.
My Autism Team is a social networking site for parents of children with autism. You can connect with other parents both locally and nationally to share experiences, resources, and knowledge.
1-888-AUTISM2 (1-888-288-4762) [En Español: 1-888-772-9050]
Or write them at firstname.lastname@example.org. They provide a wealth or resources, information and support.
The Sibling Support Project website informs families about the needs of siblings and offers resources designed to help. ACES is an approved Sibshop facilitator.