You’ve taken the first step – getting an evaluation for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Now it is time to hear the results. The evaluation results will be incorporated into a written document that explains the tests which were performed and how you (or your child) scored on those tests. The report will also list any other sources of information, such as parent or teacher reports, which were collected during the evaluation. Finally, the report will likely include an interpretation of the scores and a summary of the diagnoses made and recommendations offered. In addition to the report, you will be given the opportunity to speak to the evaluator, either in person or by phone, to ask any questions you may have about the evaluation or the information contained in the report. So, what should you ask?
Below are some questions you might consider asking:
- What signs or behaviors did you observe that led you to your conclusion?
- What are the diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis? Did you use DSM-5?
- How did I/my child perform on the tests that were used?
- What level of support do you feel I/my child need(s) at school, in the community, at home, etc.?
- What other evaluations may be needed to confirm the diagnosis or to help in treatment planning?
- Based on your observations, what therapies do you think will be most beneficial?
- What educational therapies and supports will be needed?
- Is my family eligible for any government supports?
- What community resources are available to my family, including for the parents?
- Do you have any recommendations for what I should tell my child about the evaluation/diagnosis?
- Where can I get more information?
- When should I/my child be evaluated again in the future (timeline for follow-up)?
It is a good idea to take the opportunity to read the report prior to discussing its results with the clinician who wrote it. That way, if anything in the report is unclear to you, you can ask the evaluator to explain. While many clinicians aim to make reports accessible and understandable, be sure to ask about any technical words or clinical jargon that might not make sense. If the evaluator gives you the report at a feedback session, he or she should give you the opportunity to speak to him or her at a later date after you have the chance to read the report. Many families may be shell-shocked at the time of feedback and may need the time to process the information before being able to formulate questions and move forward towards creating a treatment plan.