Neptune City Autism Testing

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Empowered Learning Transformation Centers

When an individual is suspected of having an autism spectrum disorder, obtaining an accurate diagnosis can be a time consuming, costly, and confusing process. However, the process can be made easier when qualified personnel are located who can thoroughly assess the individual to determine if they meet the diagnostic criteria for an autism spectrum disorder.

An initial screening can be done by a psychologist and/or medical doctor who have training and experience in understanding autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. Remember that at this time there is no medical test for autism. While professionals can suggest, based on observation or a brief office visit, that your child may have an autism spectrum disorder, an accurate diagnosis requires an appropriate and thorough assessment and observation. Receiving a medical diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder for your child is an important step in identifying services that are deemed as a “medical necessity” and that can potentially be covered by certain insurance providers.

An accurate diagnosis is based on an observation of specific behavioral characteristics across a variety of environments/situations and a comprehensive history of early development. The behavioral characteristics typically used are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association.

The Empowered Learning Transformation Centers recommends an interdisciplinary assessment that includes a psychologist and family members. Since communication is always affected to some degree, it is important to include a communication assessment from a licensed speech language pathologist. If the individual seems to be exhibiting sensory processing difficulties, it would be appropriate to have an assessment performed by a qualified professional. Often times, occupational therapists have the necessary training to assess individuals for sensory processing difficulties. Medical personnel, including neurologists, psychiatrists, and pediatricians should be involved when there are issues related to medication and to assess for potential neurological, genetic, or physical difficulties (e.g., seizures, brain lesions, Fragile X, allergies, digestive system problems).

If the child is in a school program, an educator should be involved in the assessment to address a child’s performance in the school curriculum and to determine additional educational support needs. Other team members who might be involved include social workers, physical therapists, audiologists, and other health professionals.

For children attending an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) program, some are equipped with licensed personnel to perform some level of diagnostic testing as part of the intake process. Most are equipped to complete programming assessments, including the ABLLS®-R and/or VB MAPP. Ongoing assessment assists with program development. Contact individual providers/centers to identify their assessment options. 

If you are seeking an assessment for an individual of school age, including ages 3 through 5, contact your local school district for information. School districts employ psychologists and other professionals who can assess school-age children to determine if they meet eligibility criteria for receiving services under an autism spectrum disorder. If your child is between the ages of 3 to 21, an educational assessment with a team of qualified professionals is required to determine eligibility for special education and related services. A “medical diagnosis” from a physician does NOT necessarily qualify an individual for educational services. Evaluations conducted through the school district are conducted at no cost to parents. If you have received a medical diagnosis, inform your school and provide their school psychologist with a copy of the report. They can use the report as a reference and important additional information when determining eligibility for services.

The Empowered Learning Transformation Centers provides diagnostic/evaluation services for individuals in need of residential services. Individuals will have to be assessed to determine initial and continuing eligibility for services. An autism spectrum disorder is considered a developmental disability.

If a family or agency wants a private or second evaluation, the following agencies and individuals have experience diagnosing and assessing autism spectrum disorders. Some of the professionals on this list may also be able to provide assistance with medications, educational programming, speech therapy, behavioral support, and/or with counseling or psychiatric services. Empowered Learning Transformation Centers does not recommend a specific organization or person. When contacting those listed below, discuss the cost of the evaluation, the testing procedures and assessment instruments used, and the type of follow-up report. A thorough assessment should allow the examiner to gather sufficient information about areas of strength and need, educate the family regarding the diagnosis, and provide information that logically leads to programming recommendations at home and elsewhere. When pursuing a private evaluation, contact your insurance company to determine how much and what portions of the assessment will be covered. Also, be sure to ask the person/agency doing the testing whether they accept Medicaid, or if there are other payment options they will or will not accept.

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