Autism Spectrum Disorder Testing in McKinney, TX
Autism Spectrum Disorder (which is also referred as ASD, AU, or autism) is a condition that involves neurodevelopmental differences that begin early in life. About 1 in 36 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder each year, and this condition is found across socioeconomic groups, races, and ethnicities. Even though Autism Spectrum Disorders are relatively common, the diagnosis can still be confusing and stressful for any adult or child. On this page, the PEARS, PLLC team will review the basic information about an Autism Spectrum Disorder, including the benefits of screenings and assessment.
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a diagnosis that indicates a person may be experiencing a myriad of symptoms that occur due to differences in neurodevelopment. In the past, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) called for the separation of ASD into specific types, so clients may have heard this diagnosis referred as other terms like Asperger Syndrome, Rhett’s disorder, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Today, we look at ASD, as the name suggests, as a spectrum. People may experience a wide array of symptoms related to ASD, and the role of the assessment professional is to develop a clear image of how the individual is experiencing ASD indicators rather than attempting to fit their symptoms into a specific type. Most people will begin to show signs of ASD and receive a diagnosis in early childhood. However, screening and diagnosis is available for people of any age and stage of development from infancy through adulthood.
How Is ASD Diagnosed?
Diagnosis for ASD typically begin with screenings. For children, these screenings are a part of regular pediatric appointments. For adults, ASD screenings may be conducted by a physician, or the client may have specific questions that lead them to seek assessment.
How Do I Schedule Assessments at PEARS, PLLC, in McKinney, TX?
Whether a professional has referred you or your child for autism evaluation after a screening, or you’ve noticed some of the common indicators, or you’re interested in other testing and evaluation services, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the PEARS, PLLC team. You can call or text our office at (817) 826-9572 or complete our online form by clicking below to schedule a visit or request additional information.
What Happens During ASD Assessment?
Because indicators of ASD may be noticed in very early childhood (often before the age of two), there are different approaches to assessment for adults and children. Below, we walk through some of the differences.
ASD Screening for Infants & Toddlers
At regular pediatric appointments, in daycare or preschools, and other settings, infants and toddlers may be observed by professionals who are knowledgeable about common indicators of ASD. Additionally, they may receive specific ASD assessments, including the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scale (CSBS), Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (MCHAT), or the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ). These screenings are all completed by parents who will answer questions about a range of developmental areas, including motor skills, communication, and problem solving. These parent-completed screening tools are typically coupled with clinical observation by a professional who is looking for some of the common warning signs of ASD in infants and toddlers, including:
- For infants and toddlers aged 12 – 18 months: not responding to their name, lack of interest in people or things around them, and little to no interest in pretending during play, are all indicators of ASD
- Having extreme or unexpected responses to sensory information (sounds, sights, smells, tastes, touches)
- Repeating words or movements
- Repetitive play
- Playing with objects that aren’t toys or focusing on specific parts of toys
- Avoiding eye contact
- Difficulty empathizing or paying attention to the thoughts and feelings of others
- Struggling to express their own thoughts and feelings
- Preferring solitary play and/or a reduced enjoyment when interacting with others
- Hyper-focusing on specific topics they find interesting and/or having difficulties focusing or engaging in subjects they don’t find interesting
- Having a tough time with changes in routine
ASD Screening for Children
Like screenings for infants, there are many screening tools that educators or physicians may use to determine whether children will benefit from an autism evaluation. Some common screening tools used for children include the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS) and the Screening tool for Autism in Toddlers and Young Children (STAT). PEDS is a parent-centered screening tool where caregivers answer questions about their toddler or child. STAT is a child-centered screening tool that involves having children perform activities under the observation of a professional who will monitor for specific indicators, including:
- Having a tough time socializing with peers and loved ones
- Difficulty with social interactions
- Struggling with understanding or communicating with others both verbally and nonverbally
- Feeling overwhelmed by sensory information
- Developmental differences compared to peers
- Finding concentration and attentiveness very challenging, especially if they are not interested in the topic
- Behavioral and physical changes, including repetitive behaviors and movements, gastrointestinal issues, and sleep disorders
ASD Screening for Adults
In adults, ASD symptoms can present in a variety of ways. Unlike screenings for children, there are not specific, standardized screening tools available for adults. Instead, the assessment psychologist, physician, or other professional will talk to adults about their experiences in personal, professional, and academic settings, and look for common ASD indicators like:
- Difficulty with social interactions
- Inability to interpret tone of voice, facial expression, or non-verbal cues
- Struggling to understand social cues
- Flat affect or tone of voice
- Feeling very anxious in social situations
- Having a tough time focusing on topics that aren’t of specific interest
- Inflexibility of routine
- Unwillingness to change
- Physical changes like gastrointestinal issues or sleep disorders
After ASD Assessment
We will combine the information gathered through these assessments into one, clear, and comprehensive report. If the client meets diagnostic criteria for ASD, the report will include recommendations and/or referrals for follow up resources and support. Dr. Arduengo’s goal is to help clients diagnosed with ASD to find the best resources to meet their academic, professional, and personal goals, so please feel free to ask any questions you may have about the reported findings.