You have been observing some social and behavioral signs that made you wonder: does my child have autism or some other developmental delay? So you brought this to the attention of your pediatrician who, in turn, examined your child, asked you several autism screening questions, and then recommended that a more comprehensive autism test be conducted. But now you're wondering what to do next? Where do you go for an autism diagnosis test?
Until recently (see end of this article), there has been no medical test that can diagnose autism. Instead, autism testing has typically consisted of in-depth behavioral evaluations conducted by an assortment of health care professionals including developmental pediatricians, child neurologists, behavioral psychologists, speech and language pathologists and occupational therapists.
Unfortunately, getting an appointment with a specialist trained in diagnosing autism can be a long process. In many cases, the wait to see a specialist for autism testing can be more than a year, and in some cases much longer than that. As a result, navigating the often murky waters of autism diagnostic testing can be wrought with frustration and confusion. Indeed, finding a specialist or team of specialists to test for and diagnose autism can be a challenge. But don't despair - there are resources to assist you.
Autism Speaks, probably the most recognized autism advocacy organization in the United States, is an excellent resource for all sorts of autism information including state specific search engine for autism testing centers across the country. By entering the state and zip code, a list of behavioral specialists that test for autism is produced.
The Autism Society likewise has a number of local affiliates across the country that can help point you in the direction of a specialist who can conduct an autism test. Also, both WebMD, who has a search mechanism on their website to find neurologists that can tests for autism, and the CDC are useful resources to learn where to be tested for autism.
Finally, according to Autism Speaks, it is important to know that an autism diagnosis is not required for your child to begin receiving services for related developmental delays or learning challenges. As a result, you may begin accessing some services to help your child while you wait on a full autism evaluation.
Oh, and one final note. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, until recently there has been no medical diagnostic for autism. That will be changing shortly as Quadrant Biosciences plans to launch a first-of-its-kind saliva test for autism. The test, called Clarifi, will be available to pediatricians, family doctors and other health care providers in late 2018. The hope is that once this test is on the market, many of the issues discussed in this blog such as protracted waiting periods for diagnosis will be greatly improved. Stay tuned for more information about Clarifi!
Hope this provides a little more insight into where to have your child tested for autism.