An Autism Diagnostic Assessment is standardized, comprehensive evaluation of developmental skills and behaviors that have significance in the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The assessment begins with a standardized parent interview, using the Autism Diagnostic Interview Revised (ADI-R). The ADI-R is a semi-structured, in-depth interview for caregivers of children for whom Autism Spectrum Disorder is a possible diagnosis. The ADI-R is administered in the clinic,without the child present, so as to provide a context for the examiner to gain a full understanding of caregiver concerns and parental perceptions of her child’s differences, before the child is ever seen. The ADI-R is typically administered in a 75 to 90 minute session. The interview will extend beyond the ADI-R to discuss and address related developmental concerns that may be non- specific but related to a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. For instance, the parent interview might also include parental completion of standardized rating inventories to assess a child’s sensory processing and regulation, and/or daily living skills and adaptive functioning.
The second part of the Autism Diagnostic Assessment includes a structured, play-based assessment called the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). The ADOS consists of standardized activities that allow the examiner to observe the occurrence or non-occurrence of behaviors that have been identified as important to the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Structured activities, as well as less structured interactions provide standardized contexts in which social, communicative, and other behaviors relative to Autism Spectrum Disorder are observed. The ADOS essentially provides an observation period during which the examiner presents the individual being assessed with numerous opportunities to exhibit behaviors of interest in the diagnosis of a disorder on the autism spectrum through standardized ‘presses’ for communication and social interaction. Data from the scored ADI-R and ADOS algorithms are integrated to determine the consistency of both parental perceptions and examiner observations with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Finally, your child may also complete one or more cognitive, or “thinking skill” tests, such as tests to assess affect recognition and social perspective taking in contrived social situations. Alternately, or in addition, standardized tests of speech and language development may be administered. Together, this comprehensive data set helps the examiner make the most accurate diagnostic formulation.
At the conclusion of the ADOS, a follow up, 1-hour parent session is scheduled to provide results and recommendations. This feedback session typically occurs within one to two weeks after the ADOS evaluation.