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Autism Screening

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

There is no medical test for Autism, such as a blood test.  Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neuro-developmental disorder affecting developmental skills across a “spectrum” of ranges from extremely mild to very severe, affect communication, social behavior, and development of other skills.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms can appear in children as young as 18 months.   A skilled evaluator can accurately identify children on the autism spectrum by the age of 2 years.

Symptoms outlined by the NIMH include:

  • Making little or inconsistent eye contact
  • Having a tendency not to look at or listen to other people
  • Rarely sharing enjoyment of objects or activities
  • Rarely pointing to or showing things to others
  • Failing to or being slow to respond to someone calling their name or other attempts to gain attention
  • Having difficulties with the back and forth of conversation
  • Often talking in length about a favorite subject
  • Not noticing that others are not interested in what they are saying
  • Do not give others  a chance to respond in conversation
  • Having facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match what is being said
  • Having an unusual tone of voice that may sound “song-song” or flat like a robot.
  • Having trouble understanding another person’s point of view or being unable to predict or understand other people’s actions.
  • Repeating words or actions they hear other people say or see others do.
  • Having an intense interest in certain topics such as numbers, details, or facts
  • Getting upset by a slight change in routine
  • Being able to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time
  • Excelling in math, science, music, or art, with a delay in other areas of development

If you are interested in having your child evaluated to see if he/she meets the diagnostic characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder, feel free to let your Family Services Coordinator know, your child’s teacher, or Christie Wilkes, the Preschool Coordinator.  The Learning Center staff will discuss all of the options for an assessment and will help your child be scheduled for this diagnostic assessment.

An accurate, reliable diagnosis of ASD must come from 3 professionals consisting of a Psychologist, the child’s PCP or a Developmental Pediatrician, and a Speech-Language Pathologist.  All three professionals should agree that the child’s characteristics place him/her on the autism spectrum.

The Learning Center is able to begin the process of diagnosis by administering a test called the ADOS.

People with autism don’t want friends. 
The truth is people with autism struggle with social skills, which makes it difficult to interact with others.  They may seem shy or unfriendly, but this is just because they are unable to communicate with others well or appropriately.

People with autism cannot feel or express any emotion – happy or sad.
The truth is that autism doesn’t make an individual unable to feel the emotions you feel, it just makes the person communicate emotions in a different way.

People with autism are intellectually disabled.
Often, autism brings with it just as many exceptional abilities as challenges.  Many people with autism have normal to high IQs and some may excel in a specific area of study or in a specific talent or ability.

People with autism will “out-grow” it.
Autism is caused by a biological condition that affects brain development and for many people, the effects of this condition are something they must deal with their entire lives.

Autism only affects children.
Children with autism grow up to become adults with autism.

Once a child receives a diagnosis, the child is eligible to receive intensive intervention ranging from 10 -30 hours a week.  This intervention consists of a 1:1 technician working just with your child on skills that he needs to acquire or behaviors that need to be reduced. The technician is supervised by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). The BCBA is a person with a  First the child must be evaluated to determine the areas of need and to determine how much therapy should be recommended.  After the child is evaluated, a request for intervention based on Applied Behavior Analysis may be submitted to Medicaid, and any insurance that covers the child.  Prior approval will be given for 6 months of intervention.  Further intervention must be requested after 6 months and must be based on a new assessment.

If a parent knows their child has autism, they should contact their Family Services Coordinator or teacher at The Learning Center and let them know their child has received an ASD diagnosis.  The Family Services Coordinator will discuss with them what steps need to be taken in order to obtain specific intervention for their child.