The Importance of a Team Approach to Autism Diagnosis
Receiving an autism diagnosis for your child can be a confusing and emotionally charged time. Luckily, you are not alone in this process. There are many health professionals who can help you to better understand your child's symptoms and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Perhaps the most important part of this process is the team approach to diagnosis.
Who Should Be on Your Team ?
When it comes to diagnosing autism, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every child is unique and will present with different symptoms. That's why it's so important to have a team of health professionals working together to assess your child, who are specialized in this population. Here are some of the team members you may come across during your diagnostic journey: a developmental pediatrician, neurologist, neuropsychologist, and speech language pathologist.
Each member of the team has an important role to play in the diagnostic process. The speech language pathologist will assess language, articulation, as well as screen for behavior and sensory processing issues. The neuropsychologist is responsible for assessing memory, cognitive functioning, and academics as well as looking into any potential psychological co-morbidities that may exist. Some examples of these may be Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Anxiety Disorder.
General Practitioner does not always have the skill set to oversee a complex communication diagnosis like Autism Spectrum Disorder. Therefore the developmental pediatrician will oversee both the therapeutic and medical information. And finally, the neurologist will rule out any neurological disorders that may be causing the symptoms of autism.
Why Is a Team Approach So Important?
The team approach is vital in order to assure that the symptoms the child presents with are actually associated with ASD. It's not unusual for children with ASD to also have other medical or mental health conditions. For example, ADHD is often co-morbid with ASD. As such, it's important to have a comprehensive assessment in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
Receiving an autism diagnosis can be overwhelming. However, having a team of professionals by your side can help to ease some of the anxiety and confusion you may be feeling. These experts can provide you with support and guidance as you navigate this new journey
By: Katherine H. Wallisch M.S., CCC-SLP, CAS, BCCS
Speech Language Pathologist
AAC & Autism Specialist