Autism Evaluation: How To Test For Autism

This is the only autism evaluation guide you’ll need to learn how to test for autism.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
November 9, 2023
min read

What Is An Autism Evaluation?

Autism evaluations are a series of assessments done to diagnose or eliminate autism spectrum disorder in people showing signs of symptoms that are related to the condition.

Autism is a developmental disorder that impacts social interactions, communication with others, and behavior shown to other people. It can be hard to diagnose since the symptoms may vary considerably from person to person.

When an autism evaluation takes place, a group of professionals usually conduct a thorough assessment of the person's history of development, the way they currently function, and their general behavior.

The team could include a pediatrician, psychologist, occupational therapist, or speech-language therapist.

The evaluation usually starts with a general review of the person's developmental and medical history, including any earlier assessments and evaluations. The group could study the person's behavior shown in varied settings, like at home, in school, or a clinical setting.

The evaluation could include an assessment that's standardized, like the ADOS, or Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Others are the CARS or Childhood Autism Rating Scale. These can help pinpoint different behaviors commonly associated with an autism spectrum disorder.

Aside from these assessments, the group could also take on interviews with the person and their parent or guardian to get info about their social communication abilities, interests, and behavioral patterns.

Once the evaluation is finalized, the group then reviews what they've found and produces a diagnosis predicated on established diagnostics.

If the subject is diagnosed with ASD, the group will work with them and their parents to create a comprehensive treatment agenda to address their needs and setbacks.

People must consider that an autism evaluation is done by people that are qualified in diagnosing and treating the disorder. The evaluation should also be built to one's certain needs and should be run in a supportive setting that's non-judgemental.

Autism evaluations are a fundamental process relied upon to diagnose or rule out ASD in people who show signs of the condition.

The evaluation usually involves a group of psychologists and pediatricians conducting assessments, compiling data, and making a diagnosis that's predicated on what's presented in their findings.

Why Do You Need An Autism Evaluation?

People need autism evaluations to find out whether or not they have ASD or another disorder that it's closely tied to.

ASD is a developmental condition that impacts social abilities and behavior. Although it might be hard to diagnose, early intervention and treatment can greatly boost outcomes for people on the spectrum.

Autism evaluations are tests made to help diagnose or negate ASD in subjects that show some of the disorder's common symptoms.

One of the reasons individuals need autism evaluation is related to the initial diagnosis leading to interventions and treatment that can occur at a good time in the patient's life.

Studies indicate that early intervention increases the chances of significant improvements in a patient's language and social abilities, particularly in children with ASD.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that all kids be evaluated for autism at some point between infancy and two years of age.

One other reason people rely on autism evaluation is for the diagnosis providing good information and support services for patients and their families.

A diagnosis can assist them greatly, especially in their understanding of challenges.

It can provide better access to important services and resources to help them prosper. Someone on the spectrum, for instance, that has ASD might stand to benefit from occupational and speech therapy that's centered around their characteristics.

Furthermore, autism evaluations can assist in striking out other conditions that could be mistaken for ASD, like a child having vision problems, an intellectual disability, or something equivalent.

By ruling these out, patients and their loved ones can be sure that the child is getting good treatment and an accurate diagnosis.

Families of someone receiving a diagnosis should take note that ASD evaluations should be done by medical professionals that are qualified and make such a diagnosis. The evaluation should be centered on the patient's needs as they apply to their personality and individual symptoms.

Of course, this is best done in an environment that's non-judgemental to both patients and those close to them.

How Is Autism Diagnosed?

Autism is diagnosed using established criteria that involve a thorough assessment done by psychiatrists and pediatricians. The assessment could include interviews with the patient in question, as well as tests over weeks or months to help rule out other conditions.

The diagnostic process for ASD usually starts with an evaluation of the patient's general medical history.

The diagnostic group will carefully observe the patient's behavior in varied settings, like a home, in school, or at a clinic.

Many of them rely on standardized assessments, whether they be in a residential setting, at a clinic, or even at school. The great could do an additional assessment to help eliminate conditions that are commonly mistaken for ASD.

After the evaluation is finalized, the group will analyze their findings and make a diagnosis that's predicated on all the criteria, leaving no stone unturned.

The DSM-5 typically plays an important part in this since it outlines what should be observed in an autistic person's behavioral patterns.

If someone is diagnosed with ASD, the group will then work with them and their parents to create a longer plan of treatment that centers more heavily on the severity of the disorder and the kind of treatment they should take over several years.

ABA therapy is usually one of them since it can include occupational therapy, communication sessions, and interventions to help them manage symptoms while they go about their life.

Making a diagnosis for ASD requires a comprehensive plan set up by more than one person, usually a team of medical professionals that have the experience required to make a proper diagnosis.

The evaluation most often involves a complex review of the patient's past and current medical standing. If they're eventually diagnosed, the treatment will allow them to boost their communication, behavioral, and social abilities.

How To Get Tested For Autism

As An Adult

To get tested as an adult, patients should contact their local psychiatrists or physician to see about possible evaluations given to people at an older age.

Autism is most often diagnosed early in life, so patients may need to go a separate route to find psychiatrists capable of accurately diagnosing their condition.

The entire process of evaluating adults for ASD tends to involve a thorough review that's built to the patient's challenges and needs. The assessment could be done by a group of more than one person, which helps lower the risk of a misdiagnosis since more than one option from a professional is involved.

The entire review typically starts with a detailed assessment of the person's developmental and medical records, including any earlier assessments or evaluations that were conducted with them.

Doctors could conduct several interviews with the patient and similar evaluations with people closest to them to help compile info regarding their abilities to socialize, specific interests they hold, and problems with their behavior.

Studies of the patient's behavior in varied environments, like their residence, place of employment, or medical setting can play an integral part in the entire process of assessment. Most of these reviews are standardized and done according to the recommendations laid out by the ADOS and ADI-R, the autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised. It helps pinpoint certain behaviors closely related to ASD.

In addition, the assessment might involve more evaluation to eliminate conditions that aren't part of their condition but are similar in the symptoms they show.

After the review's finalized, the medical group will take their findings and summarize them with the most appropriate diagnosis.

If someone is diagnosed with autism, the group will help them create a general plan of treatment that other therapists can rely upon when undergoing care for their disorder.

Adult treatment for autism could include behavioral interventions like behavioral and cognitive therapy, training for social skills, medication management for depression or anxiety, or occupation therapy.

As A Teenager

Diagnosing autism in adolescents can be difficult since symptoms might be very mild or overlap with other characteristics commonly associated with all teens.

The entire process of testing adolescents for ASD usually revolves around a detailed evaluation that is tailored to their specific needs and challenges.

This evaluation may be conducted by a team of professionals, including psychologists, psychiatrists, and other healthcare providers who specialize in diagnosing and treating ASD.

Evaluation could start by reviewing the adolescent's history presented to them in their records, like other evaluations that were done or findings previously noted. Interviews with teens are just as common, if not more so than they are for adults.

Friends and family close to them are usually sought out by psychiatrists for interviews since they may have additional information about the patients that people not close to them wouldn't notice or observe.

Evaluation of the teen's behavior is done in various areas, like at school to gauge their level of sociability or around friends. The process of evaluation helps psychiatrists cross out other disabilities. However, there are cases where someone on the spectrum could have more than one disorder which might lead to even more lengthy testing on the patient.

After completing the evaluation, the group goes over what they've seen and concludes with a diagnosis. As some may notice, these evaluations between adult teens and other age groups typically aren't very different from one another.

They're all based on what's mentioned in the DSM-5 and must be gone over by more than one person for a conclusion to be made.

When adolescents are diagnosed with autism, they're treated with the help of parents and caregivers. On the bright side, diagnosis also opens doors for more avenues to which people and organizations will be willing to help them out.

For example, many states have implemented policies that dictate health insurance companies cover the medical expenses of people with autism until they become legal adults.

Giving tests to teens with ASD relies on comprehensive evaluations, and is built to the challenges and needs of the patient. The whole process of evaluation takes into account their medical records, current and previous behavior shown, and the details indicated by people that are closest to them.

When an adolescent is diagnosed with autism, a treatment plan can assist them in boosting their overall skills in communication, behavior, and even their happiness in life.

As A Child

Making a diagnosis for autism in kids, more specifically preteens mandates a detailed evaluation that must consider their history of development in behavior and social skills.

The process of review is required to have observations that are direct and favorable for the child, such as standardized exams and interviews with parents or guardians.

At times, close friends of the child might be interviewed, or even their teacher.s When the child is evaluated at infancy, tests can't be conducted through interviews.

Instead, psychiatrists will monitor the baby's eye contact, their ability to respond to their name being called, and brain activity through a series of MRI tests. However, the latter isn't always necessary, but a good way to rule out other disorders of a similar nature.

For Free

When assessments are given to patients or their parents without them having to pay for them, there are some options.

The most common is for them to contact non-profits in their local area, and advocacy groups that give assessments for autism at either free, low-cost, or reduced prices.

Another option is to get in contact with colleges, universities, or research institutions. They might give low-cost assessments or even some that are free of charge as they're beneficial to professors and students majoring in the field of behavior analysis.


People with ADHD that are worried about having autism can get evaluated by medical professionals that specialize in ASD alone. When found, the tests could center on a review of the patient's history with ADHD, their medical record, and what's observed in their behavior at the time the evaluation occurs.

Additionally, their developmental history might be reviewed. Psychiatrists may contact doctors that previously worked with the ADHD patient to see if any underlying symptoms were present at the time they were diagnosed.

Doctors could do all of these things to ensure that a misdiagnosis won't be given, while at the same time eliminating the risk of diagnosing the patient with a developmental disorder they don't possess.

At What Age Should You Get Tested For Autism?

Trying to find out the appropriate age to get evaluated for ASD can be hard to do since characteristics of the disorder can spring forth at different stages in the patient's life.

Researchers suggest that all kids be evaluated for autistic symptoms between infancy and toddler age, and at any moment that they are worried about their behavior or social issues.

When the disorder is identified early, it can help for better access to support and services that are tailored for autism. Still, there's no cap on when someone should be evaluated.

Even in old age, evaluations are advised. In short, there's no such thing as it being too late to see a psychiatrist. People in any age group that have worries about autism can go over there or a loved one's symptoms with a medical professional.

Autism Evaluation Costs

The price for an evaluation to find ASD changes considerably based on region, state, and country. Healthcare providers can also play a huge part in what someone will pay during evaluation.

The kinds of tests done should be noted as well. There are healthcare insurance plans that could cover the expenses of an ASD evaluation but others that may need previous authorization. Limitations of what is and isn't covered though be expected.

Insurance companies might take care of the cost of evaluation and some may need previous authorization. In instances where plans are limited or not given to patients, costs for out-of-pocket evaluations can begin in the hundreds of dollars and rise to several thousand.

Are Autism Evaluations Covered By Insurance?

Autism evaluations can be covered by insurance but not in every instance.

Whether ASD tests are paid for by insurance companies is heavily dependent on different sets of instances, like the insurance plan sought, the diagnostic tests that are run, and the kinds of assessments done. Whether or not the healthcare provider does the evaluation can also change the price.

How Long Should An Autism Evaluation Take?

Autism evaluations can take between several hours and several months to finalize. It can heavily depend on the age of the patient, the resources available to the group of psychiatrists and physicians doing the evaluation, and the stipulations set out by the healthcare provider.

The average time it takes for an autism evaluation cannot be accurately measured since there exist simply too many variables to the profile of every patient and what's required for doctors to make the best summary of one's condition.

steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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