A Guide To Getting Autism Testing, Diagnosis, and Services In Michigan

As Michigan clinical psychologists trained in autism testing techniques, I think it’s important to understand the different ways you can receive an autism diagnosis in the State of Michigan. Not only will this help you better advocate for your child, but it will also provide peace of mind to know that they have been given the best possible care and treatment plan available. In order to receive an official diagnosis you would need to undergo psychological evaluation with a qualified provider. 

What To Do When You Suspect Autism

The initial step in an autism evaluation is always listening to your parental gut. You should never ignore your suspicion that something might be wrong with your child, even if you can’t put your finger on it yet. Your instincts are not to be dismissed as foolish or irrational; they are legitimate, and they need to be taken seriously.

The next step is making an appointment with a specialist who specializes in diagnosing autism and related disorders in children. This specialist will do a thorough evaluation of your child, including clinical observation and interviews with both parents and children alike. The specialist will also recommend additional testing if necessary (for example, blood work or genetic screening).

How To Prepare For An Autism Evaluation In Michigan

There are a few things you can do before scheduling an evaluation to make the process easier.

Prepare Your Child

If you suspect to have a child with autism, there are several ways you can prepare them for their evaluation. The first step is talking about what the appointment will be like and what will happen during the appointment.

Prepare Yourself

You may find it helpful to talk with other parents who have children with ASD so you can get advice on how best to support your loved one throughout this journey. To help parents navigate the evaluation process, Dr Kat Lewitzke PsyD LP recorded a podcast episode aimed to address exactly this preparation. We do encourage parents to take a quick listen at the following link. How To Get An Autism Diagnosis and Services. Actionable Advice For Parents Through Personal Experience, featuring Sharon Tonnies

What Happens During An Intake Appointment For An Autism Evaluation

A developmental history is an interview with you about your child’s development. The purpose of this interview is to help determine if there are any delays in developmental milestones and/or behavior concerns that may indicate autism.

You can prepare for this interview by jotting down notes about when your child first started walking, talking, etc., as well as any unique behaviors they may have displayed over time. In addition, looking through old photos can help trigger memories of important milestones in their lives (such as visiting Disney World). It’s also helpful to bring along toys that were favorites throughout childhood so that the doctor can observe how they interact with them now (for example: playing peekaboo). If possible, it would be beneficial if parents could attend these interviews together so that they can provide information about how their child has developed over time.

It’s not uncommon for doctors to ask questions such as “What kind of language does your child use?” or “Does he/she understand common words like ‘no’?” These questions will give them insight into whether there are delays in communication skills. Other common behavioral observations include eye contact and social engagement—do children look directly at people when speaking? Is it hard for him/her to engage with others?

What To Expect During Your In-person Autism Assessment

A diagnostic assessment, or screening test, will be performed to determine whether your child has autism or other behavioral disorders. The results of the diagnostic assessment may lead you and your child to receive additional testing (an evaluation) from a specialist.

Evaluations are often conducted by trained clinicians. These professionals can provide recommendations for any treatment that might be needed depending on their findings in the evaluations. In addition to determining whether someone has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), other assessments may also be used to diagnose other mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders and depression.

Where To Get Tested For Autism In Michigan

As you can see, there are many steps to getting an autism diagnosis. If you think your child may be on the spectrum, it is important that they get a proper evaluation so they can get the necessary support they need in order to thrive. If you suspect that your child may have some of these symptoms or behaviors, then do not hesitate to reach out for help. 

If you’re seeking services in the state of Michigan, you should do your research prior to scheduling with a provider. Be sure the provider you choose has extensive expertise in this field because re-evaluations could get cumbersome and costly. There’s also the issue of time. Although it’s important to get the evaluation as soon as possible, it’s equally as important to schedule with a provider that’s thorough, competent, and one that administers a qualified testing protocol like the gold standard ADOS-2. 

Do I Need An Autism Diagnosis To Get Services In Michigan?

Yes. While most insurance companies require an official diagnosis for your child through an AAEC, there is an alternate path to get services granted. As long as the autism assessment is performed by a qualified provider with a qualified testing protocol such as the ADOS-2, your carrier will grant you a bridge authorization so you can get services started right away without losing any more precious time.