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Autism Spectrum Evaluations


As awareness related to Autism Spectrum increases, more opportunities for evaluation and diagnosis also arise. In most instances, this is a positive thing as there are more people in need of evaluation and assistance than there are qualified providers. It's important, however, to be a good consumer and to know what to look for as you seek an evaluation. At Fort Wayne Neuropsychology, we follow best practices in our field. Whether you seek an evaluation here or elsewhere, here are important components to look for:

  • Comprehensive – there are many conditions which have symptoms that mimic what is seen in an autism spectrum disorder.  There are also numerous co-occurring conditions that need to be considered.  Doing an evaluation that consists of only a test for autism (i.e., ADOS-2) and a rating scale does not suffice to adequately evaluate for the presence of autism versus other diagnoses and/or other co-occurring conditions.  Additionally, it does not give information about other factors (e.g., intellectual functioning, language skills, emotional distress) that should be considered when choosing treatment options and developing a treatment plan.


  • Trained professionals – There are specific professionals who are recognized as competent, qualified and able to make a diagnosis of autism.  This includes a physician/pediatrician/psychiatrist and Health Service Providers in Psychology (HSPP).  Even within these professional groups, it is understood that only those with special training in neurodevelopmental disorders have competency to provide this diagnosis (see information from the IU School of Medicine website).  Currently, to obtain ABA services through Medicaid, you must have a diagnosis made by a Qualified Medical Professional.  This does not include educational evaluations done by the school OR diagnoses made by a BCBA (as they are not permitted to make this medical diagnosis). 


  • Tracking over time - Ideally, you would want to work with someone who will be able to establish a long-term relationship with your child and family.  This allows you to have support and guidance through all the developmental phases of this diagnosis and into adulthood.   It is not a one and done process.  There are multiple things that need to be evaluated over time as an individual is ready and depending on their developmental level. 


  • Time - Faster does not always mean better.  It takes time to make a diagnosis.  We know there is a need for more providers, but to accomplish what is outlined above, it cannot be done in 60-90 minutes.  At minimum, it involves taking a detailed history, conducting testing and observations, and providing follow-up with patient specific recommendations and resources.  This often takes anywhere from 3-8 hours to accomplish.  Taking an adequate amount of time also ensures that you are seeing the patient and assessing their behaviors, symptoms, etc. over multiple moments in time, which gives a clearer picture of the individual and allows them time to acclimate to the testing environment.  It is a process and this leads to a clear and accurate diagnosis.  For this reason, please understand that time is taken with each individual patient to ensure that a proper diagnosis can be made. 



For more information, please reference the links below:


American Academy of Pediatrics 2020 Publication


Indiana Resource Center for Autism - Diagnosis


FAQ about Medicaid Coverage for Autism Treatment


HANDS in Diagnosis - Screening and Diagnosis

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