People from time to time will ask how we went about getting Liam an ASD (autism spectrum disorder) diagnosis. The process might be different for others, or in other states. This is what we experienced.
We worked through a developmental pediatrician to get his diagnosis. This opened up the opportunity to have early intervention services, and additional services such as an eating screening and a psycho-educational evaluation, when the time came. While school still did their own testing when he went to enroll in Kindergarten, having this diagnosis and all of this information beforehand was helpful in facilitating conversations between parties.
Liam had a friend early on who did not happen upon this route and everyone struggled to know how to service him, due to not having good information from before he entered school. ASD can look a little like ADHD, gifted, OCD, and many other things – it was a rough conversation and road for all. He wound up being home schooled because of the difficulty in figuring out the best path.
Many people had recommended we see a certain doctor when we got our appointment with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Regional Autism Center. We didn’t get assigned that doctor, but absolutely loved and are very grateful for who we got: Dr. Kruger.
The testing that she did was, as you can imagine, comprehensive. Dr. Kruger explained everything exceptionally well and gave me lots of resources and ideas to use/try out in the six months between our visits.
Basically, at that time, Liam was given the ADOS (The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) (among other things), which came back as high functioning autism spectrum for receptive language (listening and reading), and autism for expressive language (speaking and writing). Dr. Kruger said she did not want to discuss Asperger Syndrome until he was older, because she wanted to give his language and brain more time to develop.
It was easy to see two things from our visits to CHOP: Liam played and spoke differently than other children. In that clinical setting, we noticed that he was “stiff” when he spoke to others. Often, he would be given a piece of paper and asked to draw. He would draw a few lines and then go off on a Mario and Luigi adventure, not to be interrupted by silly questions like, “How is school going?” or “How is your new baby brother?” We also realized here that we were VERY lucky to have Liam’s diagnosis for high-functioning. These visits provided us with perspective, which we needed as we continued to learn about how his brain worked.