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Autism Evaluations: What to Expect

You've worked hard to schedule an evaluation for your child. What happens next? Families have a lot of questions when they begin the process. I think it’s important to demystify it all. So, let’s talk about it!

Before a psychologist works with your child, they'll talk with you. They’ll spend time learning about your child, including their strengths and needs. This helps them pinpoint the purpose of the evaluation and the tests to give.

What you might talk about


Medical concerns or conditions

Developmental history

Progress in therapies

Family history

Your child’s strengths

How your child learns

Current living situation and support

Your psychologist will probably ask you to complete forms before the session. This usually includes consent forms and an intake form, where you’ll answer questions about your child.

This is when the psychologist gets to spend time with your child!

If your child is under 6 years-old, you’ll probably be involved in testing. You know your child best! So, it’s important the psychologist sees your child engaging with you. If your child is 6 years-old or older, the psychologist may work one-one-one with your child while you wait outside of the office.

Testing can last several hours. This depends on how old your child is and if there are multiple diagnoses being assessed. Testing is usually in-person over one session or multiple sessions. The tests given will depend on a child’s age. Your child will be given several breaks during testing.

Ways you can prepare for the appointment

Make sure your child is feeling their best and isn't sick

Make sure everyone gets a good night’s sleep

The night before, organize documents you're bringing with you

Pack the things you’re bringing the night before the appointment

Keep your normal morning routine the day of the appointment

Make sure your child eats breakfast the day of the appointment

This is when the psychologist tells you the results of the evaluation. You will learn if your child has a diagnosis and why. You’ll also learn about treatment recommendations. This session may happen the same day as testing or it may happen in the following few weeks.

The results discussion can be an emotional experience. I often tell parents to give themselves grace. You may not remember much of what is talked about and that’s okay! Your brain may not process information like it usually does because the results discussion can bring up a lot of emotions. If you need it, I encourage you to ask your psychologist for a second results discussion or a phone call to further process everything. It’s also helpful to come to the results discussion with a list of questions or topics you want to make sure are covered.

You’ll receive a written report. Sometimes this is given at the results discussion or it follows that meeting a week or two later. The report is your documentation of testing, diagnoses, and recommendations. It also communicates your child’s strengths and needs.

Evaluation reports can be emotionally challenging for parents to read. That’s because they talk a lot about a child’s needs. They should also talk about your child’s amazing skills! A good evaluation report paints a picture of your whole child, not just their challenges.

Reports serve two main purposes

1- To provide good documentation of test results and symptoms that led to a diagnosis.

2- To help parents and treating providers to understand the whole child and treatment recommendations.

Call today to learn more!

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