The inclusion of standardized cognitive and developmental testing, as well as an assessment of language, is particularly important to differentiate ASD from other developmental difficulties. These tests, which if carefully selected and carried out by professionals experienced in assessment of children with developmental disabilities, should provide information about the child’s overall level of ability and functioning in both verbal and nonverbal areas, thereby providing a crucial starting point for the clinician to make a best estimate of a clinical diagnosis. The term “multidisciplinary” has often been used to describe best practice diagnostic evaluations. This should be interpreted to mean that multiple areas of functioning should be considered during a diagnostic evaluation. It is most important that these multi-faceted evaluations be completed by clinicians with extensive experience in the standardized testing of children with particular expertise in assessment of ASD. In addition to covering multiple domains, diagnostic evaluations should consider information from multiple sources. A comprehensive evaluation must, at minimum, include a parent interview and an observational assessment of the child’s current functioning by an experienced clinician in a context in which social-communicative behavior and play or peer interaction can be observed. The child testing and parent interviews should be viewed as complimentary and necessary components of the diagnostic evaluation.
Dr. Roginsky is a licensed clinical psychologist, a board certified behavior analyst, and trained in the ADOS and other measures used for diagnostic assessment.