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    Autism Evaluations: Is Getting Tested for Autism Worth It?

    What you will learn in this blog: 

    Autism Spectrum Disorder usually presents in the first years of life. Medical evidence has shown that getting a child evaluated and enrolled in early interventions leads to the best outcomes. The wait times for an evaluation can be months or even years, so it is crucial to act quickly. Potomac Psychiatry offers autism evaluations to children of all ages. Please contact Potomac Psychiatry for a free 15 minute consultation or to learn more.

    Worried and Watchful Waiting: "Does my child need an autism evaluation?"

    Autism is a scary word. Parents can feel overwhelmed by the possibility their child is different. Some parents respond to the concern that their child may need an autism evaluation by reassuring themselves that nothing is wrong.

    “Boys take longer to talk.”

    “It’s because of the pandemic.”

    “My mother said I was like that when I was a kid as well.”

    I have heard many reasons to watch and wait. Many times, this line of thinking doesn’t seem make parents worry less. If a parent’s instincts are that something may be wrong, they are usually right to be worried. Also the reasons listed above would not explain why a child is behaving in an unusual way, such as not making eye contact or responding to others.

    Childhood Autism: What's "Normal" Anyway?

    When it comes to diagnosing Autism in young children, the earlier you intervene, the better the outcome will be. This is why we recommend children undergo Autism evaluations as soon as parents notice something concerning. In other words, there is no time to “watch and wait.” If you are concerned your young child may have autism, trust your instinct and make an appointment. If you’ve been wondering if your child is developing as he or she should, consider the following:

    • Early on, infant boys and girls progress in the same way, which is why there aren’t different developmental milestones based on gender. Girls and boys are expected to have about three words at their first birthday and 50 words by their second birthday.
    • The COVID-19 pandemic limited social interactions for many children and adults. However, the primary social interaction for infants involves their parents. Most of a baby’s time is spent playing and copying their parents. The pandemic should not have limited parent-child interactions. In some cases, the pandemic increased family time since many parents worked from home.
    • While it may be true that a parent also had a developmental delay early on, it wouldn’t be reason to let a child’s delay continue without intervention. If a parent did not have the opportunity to go to school, I wouldn’t recommend that for their child as well.

    How is Autism Diagnosed? Symptoms of Autism to Watch For

    One thing to keep in mind is that symptoms of Autism aren’t necessarily delays. A delay means the child is not achieving a milestone at an expected age. Many signs of Autism are atypical behaviors. “Atypical” means not expected for any age, such as not making eye contact or not seeking parents out to cuddle or play. Here are some other common atypical behaviors that should raise concerns.

    • Obsessively lining up objects
    • Staring at objects from unusual distances and angles
    • If your child requires routines or actions be done in a specific manner such as only using a particular cup

    Click here to find out more about atypical behaviors. If a parent is unsure if a behavior is atypical then they should ask their child's doctor. 

    When is Autism Usually Diagnosed?

    There are periods of time that are especially important for a child’s development. For example, the ideal time for a child to learn a language is when they are under six years old. If a child is not meeting their milestones at the appropriate times, or if they are exhibiting atypical behavior, then parents should seek out an evaluation as soon as possible. Getting interventions early allows therapists to take advantage of these ideal times for developing certain skills and can ensure your child doesn’t get further behind or regress.

    Unfortunately, there is a national shortage of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatricians that offer Autism evaluations. This often leads to long wait times for an evaluation. In certain areas of the country the wait for an assessment can be up to 18 months long. Even when a patient receives a diagnosis, there are often wait times to get services which can delay interventions even more. Medical studies have demonstrated that receiving services before five years of age can improve outcomes for patients. Under these stressful conditions, I highly recommend parents seek out an evaluation sooner rather than later. Every day counts.

    Where Can I Go for an Autism Evaluation?

    If a parent is ever unsure about what to do for their child, then having a conversation with their child's doctor is the best first step. Scheduling an appointment with a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician is recommended whenever parents have a concern.

    Another resource available to all parents is contacting an Early Intervention program for children under three years old. You can click on this link to find one in your state. Federal law requires every county have an Early Intervention program, but they may go by different names across the country. Contact your state’s department of health. For children older than three years old, parents can contact your local elementary school to ask about an evaluation.

    Autism Evaluations Near Me

    If you think your child may have autism—if they are not meeting developmental milestones, are exhibiting atypical behavior, or if you simply have a gut instinct that something is off—please contact our office today. We can help you through this confusing time and help you point your child down the right path.

    Chuck M. Ng, D.O. is a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician who cares for children with special needs. He has been trained to identify and treat a child’s academic, social, medical, and psychological needs. Read more about Dr. Ng here.



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