In this post, learn more about why a diagnosis of Autism might be helpful, if Autism is over-diagnosed, and what to do if you want to pursue an Autism evaluation.
Why is a diagnosis of Autism helpful?
People have many different thoughts and perspectives on labels, and medical labels at that. One of the primary purposes of labels, for better or for worse, is to open up access to services, which can be life changing for people. Similarly, labels can open up access to supportive communities.
Another important outcome of a label though, is self-validation. Even children are able to recognize that they are struggling. Sometimes when this happens, children can internalize it, thinking that there is something wrong or, quite honestly, defective about them. This is not a helpful thought. Instead, when we can help them put language to why they are struggling, we can reduce feelings of shame and self-blame and empower them to get their needs met.
How we talk to kids and teens about their diagnosis is another topic for another blog! Just know that we are likely going to talk with kids and teens about this at multiple times in their development, and using developmentally appropriate concepts and language.
Is Autism Over-Diagnosed?
I bet many of you are asking this question and curious about the answer!
When done as part of an appropriately thorough evaluation, Autism is not over- diagnosed. In fact, there is actually some concern that it is under-diagnosed in some populations (e.g., girls and women). It can be misdiagnosed (e.g., someone is incorrectly identified as having Autism when they really do not) and missed (e.g., someone with Autism is not identified as having Autism), and symptoms associated with Autism can also sometimes look like other things (e.g., ADHD, social anxiety). This is what makes an appropriately thorough evaluation so important, so that we can, to the best of our ability, understand where the symptoms are coming from. In general, public perception of increases in diagnosis are largely due to advances in our clinical understanding of how Autism presents, the development and refining of tools used to pick up on these various presentations, and the need for using diagnoses to open up access to treatment services. For example, in the last few decades, more treatment and intervention services have become available for people with Autism (including educational accommodations), making it important for Autism to be accurately identified.
What do I do if I want to move forward with testing for Autism?
There are many different avenues for seeking testing for Autism. Unfortunately, insurance does not always cover testing, and there are often long waits at clinics that accept different insurances. Call your insurance and inquire about your mental health benefits, including any deductibles, in-network benefits, and out-of-network benefits. Your insurance company can also give you a list or providers who accept your insurance. Children’s hospitals are also another good place to start. If you are able to pay for the evaluation without insurance, ask your pediatrician if they have any referrals, or even your network of friends and family. Here at Wolff Child Psychology, we are able to evaluate children, adolescents, and young adults for Autism. To learn more about our evaluation services click here: https://www.wolffchildpsychology.com/evaluation.html
Testing for adults can be more limited, so the earlier you are able to start the process the better.
Dr. Danielle Mohr is a licensed psychologist at Wolff Child Psychology. She specializes in comprehensive evaluations for children, teens, and young adults, particularly when the referral question is Autism, and she conducts regular individual and family therapy sessions.
Wolff Child Psychology is a team of licensed psychologists and neuropsychologists, psychology trainees, and academic and behavioral coaches that provide a range of psychological, behavioral, and academic services
(Click here to see our provider page).
This blog was created to help parents and providers understand more about what we do and give you concrete tools and resources about topics like Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, anxiety, parenting, and more!
We hope that this information can help empower you to make changes or get the support you need for your child and family.