Having Autism testing completed 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 a comprehensive treatment plan. 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 for you to take.

What is Autism?

Autism is a neurological condition that first presents itself in early childhood, but it oftentimes goes un-diagnosed for years. Fortunately, if you’re in Michigan, you can gain access to an accurate diagnosis early on if you know what to look for and have your child tested by qualified experienced neuropsychologists. Familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms of autism allows you and your family to be better prepared for the future. Needless to say, having an autism evaluation done by an experienced clinician early is absolutely necessary for better outcomes through therapy.

Early Signs That May Require Further Autism Testing

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 need to be seen by a qualified pediatric psychologist for an autism testing. 

Why Testing For Autism Early Is Important

Unfortunately, too many parents as well as healthcare professionals may hesitate to bring these signs to attention. As a result, children may go years without receiving the necessary autism testing required.  For better outcomes in behavioral therapy, it’s extremely important to get help for the child as early as possible.

Getting the required psychological testing for autism done early can dramatically improve outcomes. It allows parents to plan for better services in place for their child and to minimize the degree to which the disorder will affect their daily life. Early intervention is key.

Testing Protocol Used When Testing For Autism in Michigan

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 psychologist 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 autism test is administered to a child, the faster an effective treatment plan can be put in place. 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 in Michigan After Testing

Those who get early autism testing, have several options for therapies that can dramatically help post diagnosis. 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

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.

How To Get Autism Testing Services In Michigan

If you are suspecting autism, it is imperative that you call an experienced clinician to schedule your evaluation. Here at Bright Pine Behavioral Health, we typically schedule 60-90 days out, however we do also offer expedited testing services if you seek results much sooner than the traditional time frame.