1)  Why have my child evaluated?  I don't want a "label."

I absolutely understand parents' worry about "labeling" their child.  The reason I focus on evaluations is because I love helping children best reach their potential and live a happy, full life.  If an evaluation has crossed your mind, it is likely because you or someone who works with your child has concerns.  An evaluation can help tease apart what may be contributing to your child's struggles.  A diagnosis will not change who your child is, but may open doors to services, school supports, and enrich our understanding of why your child is struggling and how best to help them tap into their strengths.

2)  Does this mean you will be giving my child a diagnosis?

Not necessarily.  As a clinical child psychologist, I am trained in differential diagnosis and that is usually the point of doing an evaluation.  If I find that your child meets criteria for a particular diagnosis due to his or her symptoms and needs, then I give it.  If not, then I do not.

3)  What ages do you assess?

In my private practice, I see children from 4 years to 18 years old.  I also see adults for autism spectrum disorder evaluations only.  I can refer you to a colleague if you need assessment for a child younger than 5.  

4)  I'm worried that my child has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Can you evaluate for that?

Yes.  I have extensive training in Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis.  This type of evaluation includes the ADOS-2 (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, second edition), as well as clinical interviewing for autism spectrum disorder.  The ADOS-2 is the gold standard, in concert with consideration of the whole child and history, under Best Practice Guidelines for assessing for autism spectrum disorder.

5)  Wait.  What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?  What happened to Autism and Aspergers?

This is a recent development, with the 2013 release of the updated DSM-5 diagnostic manual that is used by psychologists. Previously, Autism, Asperger's disorder, and PDD-NOS were three separate diagnoses under the autism spectrum/pervasive developmental disorder umbrella.  This caused a fair amount of confusion.  The new criteria collapse these diagnoses under one: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but have much more detailed specifiers that address a particular child's needs in a more functional way.

6)  Does autism spectrum disorder have to be diagnosed by a medical doctor?

No.  Licensed clinical psychologists are one of the types of providers who are able to diagnose autism spectrum disorder.  Other professionals who may do so include pediatricians, psychiatrists, and neurologists.  If I diagnose autism spectrum disorder, I will likely refer you to a developmental pediatrician and/or will consult with your primary care physician about medical aspects of the diagnoses.  Most of the time, medical doctors refer to child psychologists for evaluations of ASD and other developmental/learning concerns.  For more information about diagnostic evaluations for ASD, see the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/screening.html

7) Will you provide therapy for my child after the evaluation?

I occasionally see a small number of clients for therapy.  I will provide recommendations for specific types of therapy that may be useful for your child, if warranted.  We will also discuss how to choose a therapist who is a good fit for you and your child.  I may also provide a list of possible therapists in the area, although I do not know all of them personally.  At times, I am able to offer social skills or Executive Function groups for children and adolescents with ASD.

8) How and when will I get the report?

Reports are typically ready to be mailed to you about 1 week after the parent feedback session.  Bear in mind that this will be roughly 3-4 weeks after the initial parent intake session (i.e., Week 1 = parent intake, Week 2 or 3 = testing, Week 4 = parent feedback, Week 5 = report mailed).

9)  Do you take health insurance?

No. My private practice is self-pay only. I do not take health insurance and I am contractually not allowed to have insurance billed under my name or provider number in my private practice. Upon request, I can provide you with a receipt to submit to your medical flex spending or medical savings account instead. My practice accepts cash, checks, and Visa/MC.  There is a 5% discount for payment by cash/check. 

10)  Can you make referrals for other types of providers?

Yes, I can refer to private speech therapists, occupational therapists, tutors, physicians, and other mental health providers. 

© Samantha Simms Piper / Piper Child Psychology 2013