Autism Testing and Diagnosis Services in Michigan
Having your child tested by a licensed psychologist is a crucial first step in assessing and formulating a treatment plan. With our services for autism testing in Michigan, Dr. Kat Lewitzke will provide you with an accurate assessment and provide a comprehensive treatment plan if necessary. Dr. Kat has also developed an autism screener which can be used to assess common autism behaviors and symptoms. The screener is completely free and confidential to take.
Autism is a neurological condition that first presents itself in early childhood, but it sometimes goes un-diagnosed for years. Fortunately, you can gain access to an accurate diagnosis early on if you know what to look for and have your child tested properly. Familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms of autism allows you and your family to be better prepared for what could lie ahead for your child. Needless to say, getting tested and getting help early is absolutely necessary for success.
Early Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder
If you believe that your child may fall on the autism spectrum, it helps to have a thorough understanding of the common symptoms. These symptoms should be viewed as clues that can raise your suspicion and lead you to request further testing. Keep in mind that each child on the spectrum will display these signs to various degrees, so they should be used only as a starting point to bring your awareness to a potential issue.
The signs and symptoms of autism can begin to surface as young as six months of age. An infant may have extremely limited social interactions with caregivers along with limited to no eye contact. They may refrain from the babbling and communication that is common among other children in the same age group. By their first year, communication may fall significantly behind with no words or phrases.
At older ages, autism may look slightly different but it still contains the same basic tenets. A child who falls on the spectrum prefers to be alone and struggles to connect with others. Communication continues to be extremely limited or nonexistent. They may have interests that are restricted to just one or two items. If they are verbal, these interests may be the only thing that is included in their conversations with others.
Autism can also cause children to struggle with transitions from one activity to another. An unexpected change in the plan may lead to a major meltdown or a temper tantrum. When they are upset, they might perform repetitive behaviors such as spinning or rocking themselves in an attempt to calm themselves.
Many children also experience sensitivity to certain sensory items such as sounds, smells, tastes, or textures. For example, it is common to find that children on the spectrum will become picky eaters because they can only handle the textures of certain foods.
All of these signs and symptoms should be your early cues that your child may fall on the autism spectrum. Bring any and all concerns directly to your healthcare provider so that your child can get the help that they need and deserve.
Why Testing For Autism Early Is Important
Unfortunately, too many parents hesitate to bring these clues to their healthcare provider’s attention. Their child may go two to three years without getting the necessary testing performed while the child is still in the beginning stages of the disorder. No parent wants to face the fact that their child may be struggling with this disorder, but it’s extremely important to get help for the child as early as possible.
Getting the required psychological testing for possible autism done early can dramatically improve their outcomes. It allows parents to put better services in place for their child to minimize the degree to which the disorder will affect their daily life. Early intervention can be the key to a more successful future for your child.
The testing and proper diagnosis is very important in order to gain access to the necessary services that will ultimately help your child to function better.
Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule
An effective way to test for autism is with the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). This test is designed specifically to give examiners an opportunity to see if any autistic behavior is present during certain activities. Even if a child is nonverbal, this test can still be effectively administered to confirm an autism diagnosis.
There are four modules that require the administrator to perform a series of standardized activities and record the child’s response. The examiner is going to select one module that is the most applicable based on a child’s level of verbal fluency and age. Some of the activities will be highly structured while other are more unstructured to give a better idea of social ability and communication skills. At the end of the module, the examiner is going to give ratings based on the behaviors that they’ve seen in relation to social behavior and communication skills.
Fortunately, each section of the test is relatively short and should be simple for a child to comply with. A module takes roughly thirty to forty-five minutes to complete.
The sooner that this test is administered to a child, the better the outcome could be. Having an accurate diagnosis for the child allows you to unlock access to the necessary services that could improve their social functioning and communication abilities.
Effective Autism Therapies After Diagnosis
Parents who get early testing for their child do have several options for therapies that can help after the diagnosis is given. Each one takes a slightly different approach in how to assist children with learning the necessary skills to communicate and behave in a social setting. You may want to consider a combination of therapies in order to see the best results for your child.
Play therapy has been around for a long time, but it is now demonstrating great promise for children who have been diagnosed with autism. The idea behind play therapy is that a child learns to communicate and express themselves through playing with toys, creating art, and other fun activities. In this type of therapy, the child is allowed to engage in play related to their own interests. A trained therapist uses this interest to help bolster a child’s social skills and communicative abilities.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
A child that is verbal may be able to benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. The idea behind this approach is that the child must take a look at why they behave the way they do in certain circumstances, particularly when it comes to a troubling behavior. Their cognition or thought processes are often the culprit behind their intense emotion and corresponding behavior. This structured approach helps to challenge a child’s cognition and perception of situations which can ultimately alter their response.
Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is one of the most popular and effective treatments for autism spectrum disorders. It focuses on reinforcing positive behaviors and skills with rewards, effectively increasing the number of positive behaviors until the negative coping skills become extinct. This form of therapy can be adapted in any setting from the home to the classroom. Similarly, the flexibility of applied behavior analysis allows the program to be adapted to any age and communication level.
It is never easy for parents to face the fact that their child may have a life-altering condition that will make basic activities more challenging for them. However, it is imperative that you get help early to minimize the delays that your child will struggle with. Getting testing and gaining access to services early is the key to giving your child the best future outcome. And here at Bright Pine Behavioral Health, our compassionate clinic director and staff aim to do exactly what's best and necessary for your loved ones.
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If you or your loved one is in need of psychological testing, we are here to help.
Please fill out the form below and click on submit. One of our licensed therapists will be in touch within 24 hours to discuss your unique case.