So you have concerns that you or your child may have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). What should you do? Who can you turn to? How do you find out for sure? The only way to know for sure is to have an evaluation by a doctor or other clinician with experience with ASD and with other related conditions that may look similar to ASD.
It is probably a good idea to contact two or three clinicians who are listed as evaluators for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). You can find a list of these professionals in the CAR Resource Directory™ within the CAR Autism Roadmap™, as well as from numerous sites on the internet. Take the time to interview each. From the way you interact with each other during the interview, you will learn if your styles are compatible and you will have the concrete and logistical information you will need to choose an evaluator.
It is most important, as the consumer, to ask any and all questions to be sure:
- You will be getting exactly the service you are seeking , and
- The professional you hire has experience evaluating those with ASD.
After these two points, the single most important question is: Do you feel comfortable talking to this person? Did he or she help make you feel comfortable asking your questions? Or did the clinician seem annoyed or bothered by your inquiry? It is most important to find a professional that you will be comfortable talking with and asking any and all questions. Every question is an important question!
Some sample questions you may consider asking before hiring a professional for an evaluation include:
- Do you hold a license? If so which one (for example, psychology, neuropsychology, school psychology, social work, etc.)?
- What is your area of specialty (for example, children, adolescents, adults, Autism Spectrum Disorder, etc.)?
- Have you __evaluated individuals for Autism Spectrum Disorder _______ before?
- How much experience do you have doing this work?
- How long before I can get an appointment?
- Do you work alone or do you provide a team evaluation approach? If a team will conduct the evaluation, who are the other members, and what are their qualifications?
- Will you incorporate information or assessments from others into your report (for example, teachers, family members, etc.)?
- Do you accept insurance, and if so which? Do you process the insurance payment or provide receipts for insurance reimbursement?
- What and how do you charge (sliding scale, hourly, or by the evaluation, etc.)?
- How much time will be needed to complete the evaluation?
- How can I prepare for the evaluation?
- Do I need to bring anything (papers, other reports, etc.) to the evaluation?
- What specific assessments will be completed?
- Will I be able to meet with you in person after all assessments are completed to discuss your findings? When?
- Will the results be written up in a report? How long before I can expect to receive it?
- Will there be recommendations in the report?
- If I have questions after I get the report, can we discuss them?
- Are you willing to discuss the results and/or collaborate with other professionals I am or will be dealing with (for example, pediatrician, speech therapist, educational professionals, employer, etc.), if I want you to do so?
- Do you offer treatment or therapy yourself?
Be aware that there may be a wait to see some evaluators, particularly those which take insurance or those who are hospital-based. However, if the evaluation you are seeking is for a child, you do not need to have a medical diagnosis before pursuing therapies and support from the education system. While you are waiting for a medical evaluation, contact your local Early Intervention agency (for children under 3) or your local school district (for children 3 and above who have not yet completed high school) to schedule an evaluation to determine if your child qualifies for early intervention or special education services.