FOCUS Fort Myers Now Offering ADOS Test for Autism
FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers is now offering the ADOS test for autism diagnosis.
Unlike simple developmental screenings, the ADOS test is a more rigorous medical evaluation conducted by trained clinicians. It’s considered the gold standard evidence on which pediatric neurologists diagnose autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which has a current prevalence rate of 1 in 59 children (and 1 in 38 boys).
As providers of pediatric speech, occupational, physical and ABA therapy at FOCUS, we preach the value of intensive, early intervention therapy because we KNOW it works. It’s most effective when initiated before age 5 – but almost no health insurance provider is going to cover that treatment absent a qualifying diagnosis. One of the first steps in that process is an ADOS test.
What is an ADOS Test?
ADOS stands for Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. It’s a semi-structured evaluation of:
- Communication (voice, speech and language skills)
- Cognitive function
- Social interaction
- Social-emotional function
- Adaptive skills
The person administering the test is going to carefully observe your child, ask or prompt them to complete a series of tasks and test their ability to problem-solve, socially engage, convey needs, play and pretend. The test also includes in-depth parent/caregiver interviews, which offer a more complete picture.
The ADOS test can work for kids of all ages and developmental levels – including toddlers and those with no speech.
Although autism isn’t actually diagnosed with an ADOS test, the pediatric neurologist or other specialist who makes that determination will want to have the results in hand. Unlike a condition like cerebral palsy or Down syndrome, there is no blood test or brain scan that will give us a yes-no on autism. There is also no obvious physical characteristic unique to children with autism.
Further complicating matters is the fact that people with autism experience it on a vast spectrum and there can be co-morbidity with other conditions, such as intellectual disabilities, ADHD, Down syndrome and more.
Plus: Autism is just one kind of neurodevelopmental disorder. Signs and symptoms of autism can actually be an indicator of other conditions like:
- Non-verbal learning disorder
- Intellectual disability
- Social pragmatic communication disorder
- Motor disorders
Although most kids with autism aren’t diagnosed until after age 4, doctors and researchers are increasingly convinced most could have been diagnosed by 2 – even as young as 18 months. The longer a diagnosis is delayed, the more time we lose in that critical early intervention window.
The road to the best outcomes with any of these conditions starts with a thorough evaluation that can help doctors make an accurate diagnosis.
Where Do I Start in Fort Myers if I Think My Child Might Have Autism?
Many families start with their child’s regular pediatrician, who should be conducting developmental screenings for your child to ensure they are meeting all or most of the milestones they should. Alternatively, our pediatric therapists can offer a free screening to determine if it makes sense to conduct an ADOS test.
The results of the ADOS will indicate the degree of concern. That report will then go to the pediatric neurologist, whom you will meet with to make a determination. If your child is diagnosed with autism or some other neurological condition, the neurologist will prescribe a combination of speech therapy, occupational therapy, ABA therapy (behavior therapy) and possibly physical therapy.
It’s not uncommon for parents to be taken aback or even totally blindsided when a doctor or teacher suggests their child undergo an ADOS test. They may think, for example, that a child who loves hugs couldn’t possibly be on the autism spectrum. The reality is while many children on the spectrum have some form of sensory integration disorder (which can make a child either hypo- or hyper-sensitive), it’s not 100 percent universal.
One study published in the journal Autism Research discovered huge variations in the degree to which parents were aware of the social deficits and other traits or characteristics associated with autism.
Although the whole process can seem overwhelming at first, know that the very best way to treat autism is with early intervention therapy. Our dedicated team of therapists will help walk you through the process and be there every step of the way.
FOCUS Therapy now offers the ADOS test in Fort Myers, as well as speech, occupational, ABA and physical therapy for children. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.
Neurological Evaluation of Autism, The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida
More Blog Entries:
Why We Still Need Autism Awareness: Perspective From Fort Myers Therapists for Children With Autism, April 2, 2019, FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers Autism Treatment Blog