Autism is clinically recognized as a developmental disability that usually manifests in early childhood. The developmental imbalance is caused by differences in the brain, making it difficult for a child to display expected behavior by a specific age.
How To Prepare For Your Child’s Autism Assessment
For your child to be diagnosed as autistic, they have to undergo a developmental assessment. Although many online resources list the signs and symptoms of autism, only a trained specialist such as a developmental pediatrician, occupational therapist, or child psychologist can make a definitive developmental diagnosis after an in-depth assessment of your child.
Here are some ways you can prepare for your child’s autism assessment.
File All Your Child’s Medical History
Your child’s medical history from the time they were born may help the assessment. Developmental progress is charted from the time your child is born, which allows the specialist to make an informed assessment. It would be helpful to include the results of any previous developmental or behavioral screening.
You may also include any notes you’ve made about your child’s behavior, such as on their first day of school, during a visit to the hospital, or when in an unfamiliar environment. The notes taken during these independent incidents may also be factored into the complete autism assessment.
Visit trustworthy websites that help you find out more about autism, the screening procedure, and timely interventions.
Take Note Of Your Observations
Since you spend most of your time with your child, your observations about your child’s behavior are crucial. Some of the possible behavioral signs of autism include the following:
- An inability to respond to their name
- Difficulty in displaying facial expressions
- A preference for playing alone consistently
- Any change in routine is largely upsetting
- Limited eye contact
- A fixation on a particular object or toy
It’s important to note that children generally develop at different curves. Even if you observe some of the signs in the above list, it doesn’t confirm that your child has autism. As previously mentioned, only a trained specialist can diagnose this condition.
However, you should take detailed notes about these behavioral signs and present them to the specialist during the assessment. According to research, early detection is crucial because timely intervention may have significant and lasting positive effects on later skills.
Research What An Autism Assessment Entails
After researching what it entails, it would be best to proceed with the autism assessment. Not all assessments are the same. However, you may be more prepared when you have an idea of how it’s carried out.
The assessment includes an interview with you, the parent, and the child. Your child may be asked to complete one or two cognitive tests. In addition, the specialist will administer the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), a diagnostic test wherein your child will perform a series of simple tasks.
Walking into an assessment without knowing that your child is expected to perform specific tasks or take a test may be upsetting or catch you off-guard. It’s also important to note that the evaluation typically takes several hours and more than one session with the specialist.
You may check out different blogs on autism assessment or watch videos where an actual assessment is displayed. You may also visit a specialist and ask questions regarding the process that your child will undergo.
Seek Emotional And Mental Support
The possibility of your child getting diagnosed with autism can be emotionally and mentally exhausting. You may be anxious about your child’s future, how other children will receive them, and what kind of adulthood they may experience. The endless worries that may keep you up at night require you to have an emotional and mental support base.
Support may be in the form of a psychologist, counselor, or family and friends who may have walked the same road within their own families. Speaking to them about your worries may help.
Speak With Your Child
The general sentiment is that children don’t understand such dynamics at a young age. Whether your child has reached the age of understanding autism dynamics, speaking with them about the process helps them feel loved, seen, and appreciated. The goal is to help your child feel positive about themselves regardless of whether they may be autistic or not. Gentle, positive, and affirming conversations will boost your child’s confidence in undergoing a process that they’ll probably find intimidating.
Preparing for your child’s autism assessment is a process that requires mental, emotional, and physical readiness. Presenting your child’s entire medical documents from birth and your observations and those of the grandparents and early childhood teachers may help with the assessment.
Knowing what an assessment entails may eliminate the element of surprise once the process begins. It would be best to prioritize your mental and emotional health as such a situation is highly stressful. Speaking with your child and affirming their abilities also helps prepare them for the assessment.