Parents are often the first to notice signs and symptoms of autism in a child. If your child is displaying any of the behavioral or developmental red flags for ASD, it is important to have your child evaluated. A comprehensive assessment and diagnosis can provide important information about your child’s behavior and development. It can be used to create a 'roadmap' for treatment by identifying your child’s unique strengths and challenges and which areas of development and behavior should be targeted for effective intervention. Additionally, a formal diagnosis is often required to access services provided by early intervention programs or local school districts, as well as to qualify for coverage and benefits that may be offered by your health insurance provider. However, if your child is identified as having developmental delays, there are some services (such as Early Intervention and Special Education) that your child may be able to access prior to obtaining a formal ASD diagnosis.
There are multiple routes available for receiving an assessment and diagnosis. Children can receive a diagnosis from a developmental pediatrician, a neurologist, a psychiatrist, or a psychologist. Comprehensive evaluations can be conducted by a team of specialists to help you more fully understand your child's needs and recommendations for treatment. Additional evaluations can be performed by audiologists (to rule out hearing loss), speech & language therapists, and occupational therapists. Evaluations are typically available through the school district as well.
So where do you start? Some parents start with a visit to their pediatrician, where a simple assessment can be conducted and your child can be referred to a specialist if necessary. Below are links to a list of service providers and diagnostic centers in the Houston area that can provide diagnostic and neuro-developmental assessments, as well as a list of area neurologists & psychiatrists. These lists are not comprehensive, and KNOWAutism does not endorse any group or provider.