If a child is suspected of being on the autism spectrum (usually by a parent, doctor, or teacher), they will be referred for an ADOS test. Akron ADOS testing can be completed by professionals who are certified to conduct it. These can be psychiatrists, developmental pediatricians, and pediatric neurologists. Some Northeast Ohio therapy clinics also have staff trained to administer ADOS testing. Therapy & Wellness Connection offers ABA therapy after your child has undergone ADOS testing.
Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is a developmental disorder that impairs one’s ability to communicate and interact. It’s a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. It’s often accompanied by other things like sensory sensitivities, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal issues, seizures, and mental health difficulties like depression, anxiety, and attention issues. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 1 in 44 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum.
Obtaining a formal diagnosis of autism is important for a few reasons. Firstly, we know that autism can be identified in kids as young as 18 months, though most diagnoses occur between the ages of 2 and 3. It has been proven that the earlier a child can receive intensive intervention therapies, the better their long-term prognosis in academics, social skills, etc.
Secondly, while our ABA therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy teams will treat children based on their symptoms, it’s difficult to get insurance to cover these services if there isn’t a clear, underlying medical reason. Paying for them out-of-pocket is often not an option for many families, so this is often the primary reason.
An ADOS test in and of itself will not be the deciding factor of whether a child is diagnosed with autism. It is, however, an important element that pediatric specialists will use to inform their diagnostic decision.
What is the ADOS Test?
If your child is scheduled for Akron ADOS testing, it’s important to know what exactly the ADOS test is.
ADOS is an acronym that stands for Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. It’s a standardized test that is semi-structured, designed to quantify the degree to which a child may be considered at-risk for autism spectrum disorder.
An ADOS test will analyze a child’s level of advancement in areas of:
- Cognitive function.
- Social interaction.
- Imaginative play.
- Other behaviors/aspects that may be relevant to a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder
ADOS is a little different than testing for conditions like Down syndrome or cerebral palsy, because there are no obvious physical traits or genetic markers that can definitively reveal whether a child has autism. It’s even more complicated by the fact that as a spectrum, autism is pretty vast. Two people may have entirely different symptoms, but both fall under the criteria of autism.
As it stands, the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental health Disorders sets forth the criteria for psychiatrists, psychologists, pediatric neurologists, and pediatric behavior specialists analyzing whether an autism diagnosis is appropriate.
What Will Happen During Akron ADOS Testing?
Before beginning a formal evaluation, most practitioners will ask parents/caregivers to fill out a questionnaire. If the child is in school or daycare, that professional may also be asked to complete a questionnaire, to explain the behaviors they are seeing.
Some of these questionnaires cast a broad net – intended to identify lots of potential red flags. So children who are not autistic may be flagged, but the goal is to ensure they aren’t slipping through the cracks.
The more comprehensive evaluation will be tailored to the child’s age and skill level. Akron ADOS testing for young kids will be very play-based. Modules for older kids may be more conversation-based.
It’s not the sort of analysis where there is a right or wrong answer. What the tester is looking for is evidence of repetitive behaviors, social skills deficits, etc. Sometimes, it is as much about what the child doesn’t say as what they do say. For example, the evaluator may be looking at whether the child asks for help if they need it, whether they give others a chance to speak, whether they display joint attention to an object or focus, and whether they can follow along with changes of subject.
Often, parents will be asked not to be present for ADOS testing. At the very least, they may be asked to sit quietly in a corner of the room, not engaging their child. Parents can actually unintentionally skew the results of the test. An evaluator may ask the child to hand them the blue cup. They want to see whether the child can follow a simple, one step direction. Something as simple as eye contact from a parent toward the object can give the child clues as to what they are supposed to be doing. But the ADOs test provider wants to see what the child is able to do on their own – without any other hints or clues.
It’s important that when you schedule an ADOS test, you do so with someone who is not only credentialed, but experienced. The reason is there are a lot of subtleties that can arise in this testing. For example: Is the child not making eye contact because they are shy? Or is it a symptom of autism?
Most ADOS tests will also incorporate some cognitive testing. Lots of people on the autism spectrum are very bright, but they are more prone to learning disabilities and deficits. The examiner will be looking for information on how the child thinks – How do they organize and plan? How do they solve problems? What are their cognitive strengths and weaknesses? This can part of the foundation for developing an IEP (individualized education plan) once they reach school.
Experienced ADOS interviewers will often also include an interview with the child’s parent(s), gathering as much information as possible to help ensure their results accurately reflect the abilities and deficits of the child.
If you have questions
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
What Should an Evaluation for Autism Look Like? By Rachel Ehmke, Managing Editor, Child Mind Institute
More Blog Entries:
When Should Our Child Start ABA Therapy? Dec. 15, 2021, Akron ABA Therapy Blog