Autism Evaluation and ABA Therapy: Your Complete Guide to Getting Started with ASD Treatment
If you're a parent or caregiver who suspects that your child may have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn next. Getting an accurate diagnosis and finding the right treatment can be a complex process. That's why in this article, we'll explore everything you need to know about how to get an autism evaluation and begin ABA therapy for your child with ASD. We'll walk you through the steps you need to take to get started and provide helpful tips to make the process as smooth as possible. So, let's dive in and learn more about how you can support your child on their journey towards a brighter future.
Developmental screening is an essential step in the process of getting an autism evaluation for your child. During a developmental screening, a child's skills and abilities are assessed to determine if there are any areas of concern or developmental domains where the child is not meeting typical developmental milestones. Healthcare professionals such as medical doctors, school professionals, or early childhood specialists can provide developmental screening for autism spectrum disorder.
In addition to assessing a child's current developmental skills, a developmental screening also pays close attention to areas related to autism spectrum disorder, such as social skills and communication skills. Based on the screening results, the healthcare professional will determine if there is enough reason to suspect autism spectrum disorder.
If autism spectrum disorder is suspected, the healthcare professional will provide a referral or recommendation for an official autism evaluation. Therefore, developmental screening is a crucial first step in the journey toward obtaining an autism diagnosis and beginning the necessary treatment for your child.
Who Can Diagnose a Child with Autism?
There are certain professionals who can diagnose a child with autism spectrum disorder. Typically, a child can receive a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder from any of the following professionals:
- Child psychiatrist
- Child psychologist
- Pediatric neurologist
- Developmental pediatrician
Let’s take a quick look at the specialties of each of these professionals and what makes them unique from one another.
- Children's psychiatrists diagnose behavioral health disorders. Medical doctors who prescribe medications are psychiatrists. In contrast, psychologists receive specialized training in psychology and social-emotional development. Psychologists cannot prescribe medications.
- Child psychologists specialize in children's mental and behavioral health. They know how children function socially, emotionally, and developmentally. Additionally, they provide therapeutic intervention. A child psychologist can diagnose and treat disorders such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia, disruptive behavior disorders, anxiety, and depression.
- Child neurologists specialize in the nervous system in children. Spine, nerve, muscle, or brain disorders fall under this category. These issues can be associated with disorders such as autism, ADHD, speech delays, seizures, and cerebral palsy.
- Developmental pediatricians are medical doctors who have received extensive training in both the medical and psychosocial aspects of child development and behavior. They can assess speech and language delays or motor delays. They can detect developmental or learning disabilities. Children can also be diagnosed with behavioral health disorders.
These qualified professionals will diagnose autism based on a number of different tools and strategies. They will observe your child’s behavior. They will interview you, as the parent or caregiver. They will likely interview the child. Even if your child doesn’t communicate vocally, the professional will interact with them through hands-on activities, assessment techniques, and make notes through strategic observations. The autism evaluator will also complete formal assessments which evaluate your child’s cognitive, language, social, communication, independent living, and behavioral skills.
What to Expect in an Autism Evaluation?
Getting your child an autism evaluation can be overwhelming but knowing what to expect can help ease your concerns. A doctor or specialist usually refers a child for an autism evaluation, but parents can also request one. Most insurance providers cover autism evaluations.
During the evaluation, you'll be asked to provide information on your child's development, behaviors, and medical history, and the evaluator will interview you for more information. Professionals use different tools to diagnose ASD, including the DSM-5 criteria for autism spectrum disorder. However, because the criteria may not capture all of your child's unique traits, additional testing tools like the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale, Second Edition (ADOS-2) may also be used. This structured evaluation involves interactions between the evaluator and your child, as well as careful observations of your child's behavior.
Next Steps - Getting Treatment for Autism
After getting your child’s autism evaluation, you will be informed of the results including whether your child qualifies as having autism spectrum disorder. With these assessment results, you will be able to move forward toward getting your child started with ABA therapy. Once you contact the ABA therapy company that you would like your child to receive services from, they will help you to verify your insurance coverage for ABA therapy.
They will then help set up authorization for services which includes an initial assessment with the ABA therapy provider. This assessment will help the ABA therapy provider (and you) to better understand your child’s needs, abilities, current functioning, behaviors, as well as goals for treatment. A treatment plan will be developed which will be the foundation of what your child works on during ABA therapy.
Selecting an ABA Therapy Provider
When selecting an ABA therapy provider for yourself or a loved one, it's crucial to consider a few critical factors to ensure that you receive high-quality and effective treatment. First and foremost, look for a provider with experienced and certified professionals who can personalize treatment plans to meet your specific needs. Additionally, consider the provider's location, availability, and cost to ensure that you can commit to the recommended treatment schedule. It's also essential to assess the provider's communication and collaboration approach to ensure that you receive timely updates and support throughout the treatment process. Finally, take the time to read reviews and talk to other families who have worked with the provider to get a sense of their reputation and the quality of their services. By keeping these considerations in mind, you can make an informed decision and choose an ABA therapy provider that best fits your needs.
Why Behavioral Innovations?
A number of factors make Behavioral Innovations one of the top providers of ABA therapy. First and foremost, we have a team of highly experienced, certified professionals dedicated to providing each child with a treatment plan that fits their specific needs. As a team of therapists, we are committed to using evidence-based treatments that are proven effective in helping individuals with autism.
Furthermore, we work closely with parents to ensure that they are fully involved in the treatment process, and we understand the importance of collaboration and communication between families and therapists. Families with autistic children also receive ongoing support and resources from us.
For our clients and their families, Behavioral Innovations strives to create a welcoming and inclusive environment. The opportunity to reach one's full potential is a fundamental right, and we are committed to helping people reach it. By providing high-quality ABA therapy close to home, we make it easy for families to access our services. Make Behavioral Innovations a part of your family's success and let us help you.
Contact us at 855-782-7822 or submit a short form and our team will reach out to you.
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association; 2013.