Georgetown Psychology Associates provides evaluations to determine if a child/adolescent suffers from a neurodevelopment disorder such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. At present, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a broad diagnostic category that encompasses a range of deficits in reciprocal social communication and social interaction, as well as patterns of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. The level of severity and symptom profile varies greatly from child to child. This is why testing can be beneficial for a child and his or her parents when determining the best course of action for diagnosis and treatment.
An ASD evaluation focuses on understanding the unique challenges your child faces; determining if the pattern of symptoms and impairment are indicative of an ASD diagnosis; and identifying areas in need of intervention. Facing the unknown can be overwhelming, but our trained professionals at Georgetown Psychology Associates are here to help you and your family better understand what your child is going through as well as what treatment options are available.
Common Signs & Symptoms of ASD
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defines Autism Spectrum Disorder as a complex neurobiological disorder of development that lasts throughout an individual’s life. ASD is sometimes identified as a developmental disability due to it typically beginning before a child turns 3, and since it affects the early development of language, social behavior, and behaviors concerning objects and routines.
The leading signs and symptoms of ASD involve issues in the following areas: reciprocal social communication and social interaction, as well as patterns of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior.
- Reciprocal Social Communication & Social Interaction – including verbal and non-verbal (e.g., pointing, eye contact, and social referencing) contact, sharing emotions, perception of others, maintaining a conversation
- Restricted and Repetitive Patterns of Behavior (also referred to as stereotyped behaviors) including limited interests, repeating words or actions; compulsively following routines or schedules; and playing in repetitive ways
How an Evaluation Can Help
The ASD evaluation includes an in-depth structured interview with the child’s parents and an interactive behavioral assessment of the child. Both the parent interview (ADI-R, Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised) and child behavioral evaluation (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-ADOS, Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) are research-based, standardized assessments that are considered among the best assessment tools for ASD and related disorders. Dr. Zimmitti and her team have specialized training in administration of the ADOS which is especially useful in diagnosing ASD, as well as ruling out competing diagnoses such as a social pragmatic communication disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or social anxiety.
Information will also be collected from parents, teachers, and caregivers using structured questionnaires that assess the child’s ability to communicate, form relationships, play, learn, and perform activities of daily living.
After the Evaluation
Depending on your child’s symptoms and their severity, additional assessments of speech-language, sensory processing, and motor skills may be recommended. These evaluations, which are also provided in our office, are not only helpful in diagnosing an ASD but also for determining the type of treatment that may be best. The evaluator will have a face-to-face meeting with you after the evaluation to review the results and answer your questions. You will also receive a comprehensive written report describing the evaluation procedures and findings and recommendations for supporting your child/adolescent at home, in school and with peers.