Sometimes individuals have concerns about themselves or their children and would like to see real and measureable data to determine whether their concerns are valid. Often these individuals may feel wary and wonder, what is an evaluation really and what might that entail?
Emerge psychologists evaluate individuals from a year old into older adulthood. A diagnosis or information that no diagnosis is relevant can be helpful at any age and has implications for how a family interacts and functions, school services, insurance based therapies, marriages, friendships and career success. Emerge accepts most major insurance plans which can make the process less of a strain financially. Some insurance plans may cover the entire process with no cost to a family. Emerge also works to schedule clients’ evaluations within a month of their initial session because we do not want families to endure a long wait for answers. An evaluation for Autism will include, at minimum, a parent or individual interview and developmental history, an intelligence test, an ADOS-2 and an adaptive measure. Depending on the concerns, an evaluation may be more complex in order to answer additional questions about attention, learning, anxiety or mood.
An interview and developmental history is important so that a psychologist can understand the present concerns. Some examples of concerns may include: My child doesn’t understand how to make friends, My child throws lengthy inconsolable temper tantrums, My child has a language delay, My child has sensory processing challenges, My teenager is socially isolated, As an adult I have no idea how to make small talk, I don’t know what to say when my spouse is sad. The list goes on and on. This interview also provides a time to understand medical history, birth history, developmental milestones, information specific to your life and your family. This provides information that may or may not identify a “red flag” for Autism Spectrum. It may also identify other areas or concerns. An intelligence test is important to understand strengths and weaknesses in verbal reasoning, nonverbal reasoning and areas of cognitive processing. It is helpful to know if social skills match intellectual abilities and if abilities are unevenly developed, where are strengths and what areas may be of concern. An ADOS-2 is a semi-structured measure of social interaction, social communication and restricted repetitive behaviors or interests. Psychologists with special training and years of experience give the ADOS-2. This measure, analyzed along with developmental history and intellectual ability, can help a psychologist rule Autism in or out. When assessing for an Autism Spectrum Disorder it is crucial to know both “What is Autism?” and What is not Autism?” An adaptive measure, such as a Vineland-2, is completed by a parent or by an adult client and provides insights into social interaction and activities, daily living skills like dressing, bathing and paying bills and communication. This information taken together may lead to a diagnosis and recommendations, or it may lead to recommendations only for an individual’s success. Feel free to call Emerge with questions about this process or to schedule your consultation.