Sometimes it is a good idea to take a close look at the individual's functioning, abilities and needs when planning for a transition, whether that transition is from:
We know that individuals with autism tend to need preparation for any transition and extensive preparation for major life transitions. With each new environment, new competencies are required that may not have been assessed previously. An evaluation can initiate the process of preparing for the next environment, including identifying the specific goals and objectives that must be addressed for the child or adolescent to be successful in that setting.
1. To determine if there is a diagnosis and a need for services
2. To provide a second opinion following another evaluation
3. To determine particular strengths and needs
4. To help in planning for a transition
5. To assess other possible areas of concern
6. To re-evaluate functioning periodically
Children can change over time. Diagnoses can change, needs can change. A periodic re-evaluation can help determine current status and needs. If a child was first diagnosed as a toddler or preschooler, if may be useful to re-evaluate early in the elementary school years. An assessment in early adolescence also can add additional information since some higher level cognitive abilities are just beginning to emerge at that age and would not have been assessed previously.
If you have concerns about your child's development, if someone has questioned whether you or your child might have autism or another developmental condition, if you have been reading things on the web that remind you of yourself or your child in some ways, you want to get a definitive opinion from an expert in the field.
A good evaluation should be based on a collaborative process between the individual or family and the professionals, recognizing that no one knows the child the way the family does. Parent input and priorities are key components of the evaluation process.
Families also expect the evaluator to be comfortable interacting with their child and to be able to get the best from their child. If the evaluator does not or cannot interact with your child, only a limited sample of information is obtained.
Families generally are seeking more than a diagnosis, they want guidance and direction. The evaluation should produce detailed, customized recommendations for each client, whether or not a diagnosis is indicated. Ideally, the evaluator should be available to meet with families beyond the initial evaluation to help the family better understanding the child's diagnosis and take the next steps in addressing the child's needs.
Beyond any question of diagnoses, families, schools, and agencies often seek information regarding particular pattern of strengths and weakness. Knowing strengths and interests leads to suggestions on how they can be tapped in educational and therapeutic interventions intended to compensate for areas that are more challenging for the child.
Autism does not always occur in isolation. Intellectual disability, learning disabilities, mood disorders, and anxiety are among the conditions that are more common in individuals with autism than they are in the general population. Not all of these conditions will be evident in young children. Sometimes an evaluation in later childhood or adolescence is necessary to assess for these conditions.
Individuals or families sometimes seek a second opinion after getting an initial evaluation. They may be dissatisfied with the initial evaluation for some reason, or they may just be looking for confirmation of what was previously found. A second opinion evaluation can focus on any unanswered questions or concerns the family has. When the school has done an evaluation and the family would like additional assessment to take place, it may be possible to arrange for an Independent Evaluation through the school.