AUTISM EVALUATION
(Psychological Evaluation)
Age 3+ years old
Approximately 1 in 85 children demonstrate symptoms of an Autism-
Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including milder symptoms that may not meet
full criterion for Autistic Disorder. The term “autism spectrum” is used
because children can show a wide variety of symptoms, and the severity of
these symptoms is also quite variable. Early symptoms of ASD can
include: no babbling or pointing by 12 months; no single words by 16
months or two-word phrases by 24 months; no response to her/his name
being called; poor eye contact; and reduced smiling or social
responsiveness. However, language delays or deficits can also occur in
non-ASD disorders (e.g., developmental language disorders). Later
symptoms of ASD can include: impaired ability to make friends; impaired
ability to initiate or sustain a conversation; absence of imaginative and
social play; repetitive use of language (e.g., repeating the same phrases over
and over); restricted interests or having intense interests in limited domains
(e.g., being obsessed with train schedules or other facts); preoccupation
with certain objects; and inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals
(e.g., demanding that events occur at specific times or in a certain way);
and sensory sensitivities (e.g., being highly sensitive to certain noises,
smells, and/or
textures). Although not required for a diagnosis, other
characteristics often associated with ASD diagnoses include poor fine
motor coordination.

We conduct both psychological and neuropsychological evaluations to
assess for the presence of an autism-spectrum diagnosis in children,
adolescence, and adults. Psychological evaluations involve parent/guardian
interview, completion of questionnaires by the parent/guardian (and
teachers or others who work with the child, if applicable), and both
observations of (and interaction with) the child using the Autism Diagnostic
Observation Schedule, 2nd Edition (ADOS-
2).

Neuropsychological testing (described elsewhere in this website) can also
be conducted to assess cognitive abilities such as facial processing (e.g.,
identifying emotions on faces, memory of faces), "theory of mind" abilities
(i.e., the ability to understanding others' perceptions and beliefs), language
skills, problem-solving, and various other domains.

Parents/guardians are provided with extensive feedback about the findings
and recommendations following the evaluation. School personnel often
benefit from receiving both psychological and neuropsychological test
results to develop accommodations and special services to help children
with ASD. The information can also be used in determining whether a child
could be eligible for services through the Division of Developmental
Disabilities (DDD; www.azdes.gov/developmental_disabilities).
For DDD
evaluations, we provide information regarding diagnostic impressions from
the DSM-IV-TR (the previous diagnostic manual), which requires
designations such as Autistic Disorder and Asperger's Disorder (which are
no longer diagnoses in the revised DSM-5).


Children seen for neuopsychological, psychoeducational, or
psychological evaluations can have a qEEG brain mapping
assessment added to the evaluation. Brain mapping data can
help explain the underlying factors contributing to a
children's cognitive, academic, and emotional/behavioral
functioning. For instance, children with autism-spectrum
disorders frequently exhibit low levels of Alpha waves; high
levels of High Beta waves; and significant hypercoherance
(excessive communication) between various regions of the
brain.

See Dr. Baker's commentary in the article
"Autism 101" in Arizona Parenting
Magazine (March 2012) on page 14.
Autism 101 (page 14)

If you want more education about ASDs,
consider downloading the following
handout, which was developed by Sanford
University in South Dakota.

AUTISM SPECTRUM HANDOUT