If you suspect your child has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), your journey to understanding your child’s health challenges may include an autism spectrum test.
Undertaking an autism spectrum test can be an emotional time for both parents and children. One way to combat this is to understand what testing will involve and why diagnosis is important. We’ve put together this helpful fact sheet to help demystify ASD testing and help you prepare for an upcoming autism spectrum test.
Why is ASD testing important?
There are a number of benefits to having your child undertake an autism spectrum test. Once your child has been diagnosed with ASD, they are able to get the help that they need. Having the right paperwork – including a formal medical ASD diagnosis – is imperative to accessing the support services available.
Many parents also find that ASD testing helps alleviate emotional stress associated with not understanding their child’s needs.
Who can diagnose autism?
The medical experts that are legally able to diagnose autism vary from state to state across Australia. As diagnosis typically happens during childhood, diagnosis usually involves a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, including paediatricians, childhood psychologists or psychiatrists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists.
What does an autism spectrum test involve?
As ASD means something different for everyone, there is no set criteria for a medical test or diagnosis. Rather, medical experts come together to carry out many different assessments, which contribute to a holistic view of how severe your child’s ASD may be.
On the assessment day, medical experts will conduct different assessments to evaluate whether an individual has ASD. There are four main areas that are assessed. These are:
1. Behaviour and Family History
The first assessment will usually involve a childhood psychologist or paediatrician interviewing the parents and family members of the child undergoing ASD testing. This is to paint a clear picture of the child’s behavioural history, as well as to see if there’s a history of ASD in the family.
2. Communication skills
As communication is one of the key areas impacted by autism, the next phase of assessment will involve a speech pathologist or therapist engaging the child in different communication tasks. With tests involving verbal and non-verbal tests and pragmatic language skills, this phase of assessment aims to gauge how well the child can communicate and how they use language.
3. Cognitive abilities
Depending on the age of the child, they may be asked to complete different cognitive tests. For children who are of school age, they may be asked to complete written literary and numeracy tests, as well as IQ tests, to gauge their cognitive levels against standardised benchmarks for their age.
4. Medical assessment
Finally, medical assessments may be carried out to evaluate a child’s physical health and uncover any phsical ailments that may impact their results. This usually includes hearing and vision tests, blood tests and genetic testing, as well as an electroencephalogram (EEG) to test brain activity.
What happens after ASD testing?
Once your autism spectrum test has finished, your doctors will advise you on next steps. Some children may have a clear indication of ASD, while others may require further testing or evaluation.
If your child’s autism spectrum test comes back with a positive diagnosis, then the next steps will be to seek out an early intervention service. The Australian government provides a lot of support through the NDIS to help fund early intervention programs for children with autism, which can have a huge impact on ensuring your child gets the best possible start to life.
Lizard Centres are located all around Australia and run specialist early intervention programs for children with autism. We have extensive knowledge on the NDIS and can help you access your NDIS funding. Reach out to our friendly team today to talk about how we can get your child the help they need.