Autism Assessment for Children: What To Expect And How To Prepare For It
What are the benefits of getting an early autism assessment?
In Singapore, more than 200 estimated cases of autism in children are diagnosed yearly.
Since autism can impact a child’s life in so many ways, it’s crucial to have intervention as early as possible. When earlier intervention is initiated, it can result in improved intellectual capabilities and better speech control. After completion of the intervention, the child can develop more effective motor control and communication skills.
The key to early treatment is detecting the needs of your child as early as possible, says researchers at the Yale Child Study Center. A study by the researchers, they are focused on finding ways to detect ASD in children earlier in infancy with the use of eye-tracking technology. This way, when children in the spectrum are diagnosed early, they will receive treatment, not allowing them to miss out on opportunities to learn about the world.
Other studies have also shown that when a child obtains an initial diagnosis, they are more likely to show improved developmental, cognitive, and adaptive functioning. Further, they will have enhanced social and language skills.
What is an autism assessment?
The signs and symptoms include:
- Problems with communication skills, such as finding it difficult to talk to other people
- Unusual or intense interests
- Avoids eye contact
- Does not respond to name
- Does not share interests with others, especially with other kids
- Finding some situations hard to cope with
- Strong prefers usual routines
- Lines toys
- Hand leads
- Repeats words or phrases (echolalia)
- Rocks body and flaps hands
- Delayed language skills
- Delayed cognitive skills
What is an autism assessment?
If your child needs an assessment, it should start within three months. The team of licensed assessors, including the paediatrician, will make sure you and your family know what will happen.
A case coordinator will be in charge of explaining answers to your questions, getting information and support from the family, and collecting information such as family history, developmental milestones, and a report from the school about the child’s behaviour and performance.
1. Before the assessment
This initial step is crucial for the assessors to have a baseline of the information needed to make a diagnosis. Apart from these, they will also conduct screening and observation.
How to prepare for it?
Since the team will need information about your child and family, it’s recommended that you know your child’s health history. This includes family history, birth history, and personal health.
The family history includes all information about risk factors that run in the family, including if the child has older siblings with ASD, relatives with the condition, and at what age the parents had the child.
The birth history includes information about the child’s birth – was he or she premature, did he or she have complications during childbirth or did the baby have reduced oxygen supply during birth. In some instances, infants with very low birth weight are also at an increased risk of developing ASD.
Lastly, know the child’s health, including major health problems in the past. This is important because some health problems are common in children with autism, such as sleep problems, anxiety, and gastrointestinal issues.
2. During the assessment
During the assessment, the team will observe the child in various settings and use objective tools to assess the child’s triad of challenges. The team will screen for language or communication delays, play or social delays, and restricted or rigid behaviours.
They will use various screening tests to ensure that the child will be assessed appropriately. Typically, an autism assessment will last for about 3 to 4 hours, conducted over about three sessions.
How to prepare for it?
During this phase, you must understand the process, how it will be conducted and how long it will take to land a diagnosis. It is recommended to accompany your child and make sure they had plenty of rest the night before. However to make sure that the assessment result is accurate, do not prompt your child if you are sitting in during the assessment.
Also, the child should have eaten their meals before the test. Provide a walkthrough of what to expect during the assessment, including where you will go, who they will meet, and what they may do. If your child is unwell, tired, or uncooperative, ask to reschedule the assessment.
3. After the assessment
After the autism screening or assessment, the team may explain whether they think your child has autism and why. A written report will be provided, which includes all findings. For children on the spectrum, the team will now recommend the treatment plan appropriate for your child’s needs.
It’s essential to identify children with possible ASD early so they will receive the needed intervention and support services to address their learning needs. An autism assessment will help parents confirm if their child has autism and other developmental issues.
Autismstep is a team of certified and experienced BCBAs and RBTs. To ensure that your kids are in good hands during the therapy sessions, all our therapists are required to be RBT-certified. Autismstep conducts autism assessment, too. Tap here to know more about The Role of An Autism Specialist in Singapore.
To help you make an informed decision on the type of therapy your child needs, please schedule a consultation with us today, or call +65 6456 9950.