Many different professionals can diagnose Aspergers and High Functioning Autism (HFA). Psychologists, pediatric neurologists, developmental pediatricians, psychiatrists and other professional diagnosticians can all diagnose Aspergers and HFA. Getting a “comprehensive psychiatric evaluation” from a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist who specializes in Autism Spectrum Disorders would be the best option.
If parents are considering getting an official diagnosis, they should bring the following items to the evaluation:
- any kind of “baby development log” that was kept noting important milestones (e.g., crawling, walking, first words, etc.)
- if the child kept a diary on his/her experiences in dealing with other people, this may be useful
- medical history/records
- parent’s/teacher’s notes on the child’s behavior
- school records from Kindergarten through High School that shows the child’s abilities, both weak and strong
What moms and dads find most helpful are those evaluations which are the most comprehensive, provide the greatest specificity about how their Aspergers youngster learns, and can capture the “unique needs” of the child. Parents are looking for in depth reports that will help them – and their child’s teachers. Generally a multidisciplinary team approach evaluation done at a medical or evaluation center, or a neuropsychological battery of tests, done by a neuropsychologist, provide the most in depth reports. This report then can be used by the parent to understand the child’s thinking and feeling and to help the parent and teachers create the most effective IEP.
Evaluation often involves some connection with the school system. If the child is of school age, mothers/fathers start by requesting that the school do an evaluation for determination of eligibility for special services. This would be in the form of a letter, sent to the school. Sending this request starts the State’s evaluation process. It should result in the school sending the parent a list of tests which they and the parent check off to test the child. Parents give their permission for testing to begin by filling out and returning that form. Schools do a variety of tests themselves.
A key for obtaining a good evaluation is to use evaluators who have extensive expertise and experience with Aspergers. Always ask if this tester or center does a lot of testing of Aspergers children. When well chosen tests are done by experienced professionals, parents and teachers can better understand the Aspergers child’s strengths and challenges. The suggestions and recommendations from these reports will guide the application of all interventions, strategies, accommodations and modifications of task requests.
Do NOT feel obliged to continue to see any professional that makes you or your child feel uncomfortable or who pushes their own agenda to the exclusion of meeting your child's needs. Continue to seek what you find helpful, and look elsewhere when it is not.
The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook