Autism Assessments

Assessments for a possible Autism Spectrum Disorder are requested for many different reasons, including:

  • Recommendation by school staff or physician
  • Social Interaction Challenges (e.g., low eye contact, missing social cues, misreading others’ emotions or facial expressions, lacking a "filter" with others, difficulties understanding others’ perspectives)
  • Social Communication Challenges (e.g., reduced use of non-verbal gestures, delayed speech skills, echo-like or repetitive vocalizations, difficulties maintaining two-way conversations, or being overly literal in conversation)
  • Social Isolation (e.g., difficulties maintaining friendships)
  • Possible Intellectual Exceptionality (e.g., giftedness, intellectual disability, or highly uneven cognitive profile)
  • Concerning or Unusual Behaviours (e.g., hand-flapping, spinning, repetitive use of objects, or head-banging)
  • Sensory Over- or Under-Sensitivity (e.g., dysregulation from sounds, touch, texture, taste, or smells)
  • And – to "rule out" an Autism Spectrum Disorder (confirm that an ASD is NOT the source of a child’s struggles).

Our Wishing Star clinicians have informed expertise specific to the assessment, diagnosis, and support of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Our clinicians follow best practice guidelines for the identification of ASD, and specifically use the BCAAN-mandated assessment measures required by the Province of British Columbia for possible eligibility for funding from the Ministry of Children and Family Development. The ASD-related credentials of our clinicians include both the official trainings from the test publisher and extensive supervised experience with these measures.

How it Works

At the Wishing Star, we tailor your child’s assessment for a possible ASD to your child’s current needs, but also to your child’s prior assessment history. When booking an assessment, our Client Care Team and Psychology staff will consult with you to discuss your options.

The process typically begins with a review of any previous assessment reports, letters, or documents, and a parent session is scheduled with you. At this first appointment, we call upon your expertise as parent to review your child’s early developmental history and discuss your child’s current needs. We will also complete a formal comprehensive clinical interview with you about your child’s possible Autism symptoms (the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised or ADI-R), which is part of the BCAAN assessment standards. This interview typically takes about 2 hours to complete.

Next, we will meet with you and your child for direct assessment of your child’s intellectual development. If your child has had a recent and valid assessment of their cognitive functioning by a qualified Psychologist, this step may be waived at the clinical discretion of our Psychologist. This direct assessment typically is completed in one session with some breaks, but your child’s age, language skills, and adaptability may determine the length or number of sessions.

We will then meet with your child for approximately 1.5 to 3 hours of direct assessment time to observe your child’s social communication, social interaction, behaviour, and imagination skills (the Autism Diagnostic Observation System, Second Edition). This typically is completed in one session with some breaks, but the amount of time and sessions will depend on your child’s age, language skills, and comfort level. Depending upon the age of your child, you may be asked to be present and partake in some of the structured social and play activities – and they are low-pressure and fun!

Many parents wonder what to tell their child about the assessment. We encourage an honest response that includes discussion of the purpose of the assessment. This includes making sure that all of the big people (parents, educators, other professionals) understand who your child is, and that we all need to do our jobs in the best way possible for life and learning to be more enjoyable and best supported.

When the assessment is complete, the parent(s)/caregiver(s) are invited to an assessment debrief session. During this session, we review the assessment outcomes and details of the report. You have the opportunity to ask questions and really understand the meaning of the results and provide feedback to the involved psychologist prior to receiving the final Report. Although there are certain things that cannot be altered in the report, it is important to us that you have a final report that you are comfortable with and that adequately represents the child you know.

Following the parent debrief, your child may be invited for their own debrief, depending on your child’s age and stage of development. During this session, the psychologist talks with both the parent(s) and the child about the assessment results in child-friendly terms to help the child understand his/her own developmental profile.

After the debrief(s) are completed, The Wishing Star psychologists are available to liaise with medical staff, other multi-disciplinary service providers, and educators in schools and or post-secondary settings. If you desire, we will work with you to communicate the assessment outcomes to your support team and be part of program planning and support implementation.

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