Early intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) through an autism assessment can help parents, carers and professionals to best understand the needs and supports of a child on the spectrum.
Autism spectrum disorder or commonly known as ASD is a developmental condition characterised by difficulties in two distinct domains; communication and social interaction and stereotypy behaviour patterning. Some of the more common difficulties among children on the spectrum can include but not limited be to, hyper or hypo sensitivity issues, literal understanding and poor emotional regulation.
ASD symptom manifestations can present during childhood and if not adequately supported, can have a profound effect on a child’s day to day functioning. Early intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is essential to not only provide the best outcome but also support the child on many developing life and social domains. The assessment will take into account the nature and severity of the autism to develop a program that is best suited for the needs and demands of the individual child.
Does my child need an assessment?
A child may need an assessment if they show signs of.
- Ridged/concrete thinking, or ritualised patterns or verbal-nonverbal behaviour (e.g., extreme distress at small changes, difficulties with transitions, needing to take the same route or eat the same food every day)
- Speech absent by 18 months old and two and three word phrases not in use by the age of two.
- Problems with eye contact, affection, reciprocal smiles
- Repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech (e.g., flapping of hands, lining up toys or flipping objects, echolalia, repetitive phrases)
- Fixation with interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (e.g, strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects
- Hyper – or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment. (inability or refusal of wearing certain types of clothing. Indifference or overreaction to pain/temperature, overactive response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling, mouthing or touching of objects.)
- Inability to maintain reciprocal relationships with their peers, failure to carry on a back and forth conversation or to respond in conversations. A lack of interest in others around them.
- Difficulties adjusting behaviour in social situations.
What does an Autism Assessment involve?
An autism assessment involves a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s functioning and developmental history. It involves interviews, behavioural observations, and the use of various clinical assessment instruments.
In South Australia, a formal ASD assessment diagnosis must be conducted by a qualified ASD Diagnostician using the DSM-5 criteria. A single diagnosis is all that is required by the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) for assessment for lifelong access. Currently, DECS (Department of Education and Childhood Development) require a Dual Diagnosis for the child’s disability to be recognised. A dual diagnosis is carried out by a combination of psychologist, speech pathologist, psychiatrist or a paediatrician. The assessment has been made by both parties once there is an agreement to the presence or absence of meeting DSM-5 criteria. The structure of this assessment will differ according to the age of the individual, and may include cognitive and other assessments to rule out other diagnoses.
How can we help?
At Inclusive Directions we provide single diagnostic assessments, conducted by our resident speech pathologists. Please note, a second diagnostic assessment will be required from another professional either a psychologist, psychiatrist or a pediatrician if you wish for the diagnosis to be recognised by the Department of Education and Child Development (DECD).
If the Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis is positive then a referral can be made to appropriate services, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Inclusive Directions can help you provide the best supports, therapies and programs, through delivering supports at home, in the community and via consultations. Inclusive Directions is a registered NDIS provider, our programs are evidence based and are designed to provide greatest outcomes for your child.