World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated each year on April 2 and was adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to shine a bright light on autism as a growing global health crisis. World Autism Awareness Day activities increase world knowledge of autism and impart information about the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention.
What is Autism?
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a set of complex — and frequently misunderstood — disorders of brain development. According to a recently published article by Emily Willingham in Scientific American, “These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.”
For parents, understanding the Autism Spectrum is often confusing, in part due to changing definitions and popular misconceptions. For example, in May 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) merged all autism disorders into one diagnosis of ASD and eliminated all subcategories – from Asperger Syndrome, to Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, to Autistic Disorder.
Why does my child need Autism testing?
Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the U.S. Ten years ago, Autism’s estimated prevalence was 1 in 166. Today it’s 1 in 68 – an increase of more than 100% in only one decade.
Making the decision to have a child evaluated may be difficult. Parents can struggle with fear, worry, and even shame. However, a persistent feeling that “something is off” is an indicator that testing is necessary.
According to Autism Speaks, “Often parents are the first to notice that their child is showing unusual behaviors such as failing to make eye contact, not responding to his or her name or playing with toys in unusual, repetitive ways.”
What are the symptoms of Austism or ASD?
ASD symptoms include intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention, and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some people with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
It’s important to note that ASD is a spectrum, each child is unique, and not all exhibit “classic” symptoms, which is why diagnosis is crucial. One third of children (and adults) with autism are nonverbal.
Autism Speaks, “Autism can be reliably diagnosed by age two…earlier intervention improves outcomes. Early intervention can change underlying brain development and activity. It’s also cost-effective, as it reduces the need for educational and behavioral support in grade school and beyond.”
For early indicators of autism, see Learn the Signs.
What is the evaluation process? How is Autism or ASD evaluated?
A specialist looks for a pattern of strengths and weaknesses that emerge across the span of several tests. And, the good news is, that once an evaluation is completed, a report will yield crucial, detailed information about the child’s strengths, weaknesses, and neurological development.
After the evaluation, what’s the next step?
After the evaluations, recommendations will be made to parents and educators regarding the best teaching methods and educational environment for the student to reach his or her full potential.
The resulting formal report can be used to:
- Document the need for special services to be provided by the schools
- Take extended time SATs and High School Entrance Exams, and many other tests
- Evaluate for entrance into a gifted program
- Accommodate through 504 Plans
Autism evaluations and other psycho-educational testing in Delaware
Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc. offers Austism and ASD evaluations, as well as psycho-educational testing for:
- Academic Achievement Levels (by grade level and age level)
- Learning Disability and Giftedness Screening
- Verbal and Visual Memory
- Visual and Auditory Perception
To learn more about Autism evaluations and psycho-educational testing in Wilmington, Delaware, please contact Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, Inc. at 302-594-0754.