Though there are multiple tools available for screening autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Second Edition (ADOS-2) is considered the gold standard in diagnosing ASD in both children and adults.
“One thing I really like about ADOS-2 is that it’s fun,” says Madison Jernigan, LPA, a licensed mental health clinician at Heartfelt Solutions. “Kids enjoy doing it. It doesn’t feel like taking a test.”
The ADOS-2 process begins with an hour-long intake interview to gather background information with the patient, as well as their parents or guardians if they are a minor. Once the intake is completed, the assessment can be scheduled. The ADOS itself is also about an hour long. Semi-structured, it is primarily play based when used to assess young children. During planned social activities — or scenarios where children are expected to socially interact and communicate — the mental health professional can directly observe the child’s behavior.
Testing typically starts at age three but can be administered through adulthood and is tailored to the age and development of the patient. When ADOS-2 is used to assess teens and adults, clinicians utilize age-appropriate toys and/or puzzles, as well as interview-style questions.
If you notice these potential signs and symptoms of autism in a loved one, you may want to consider ADOS-2:
• Speech delays, especially if a child is age two or older and not yet talking.
• Speech abnormalities, such as a flat affect or tone, or unusually formal speech.
• Lack of eye contact, or inappropriate staring.
• Not picking up on social cues and recognizing emotions in others.
• Not seeking comfort when sad or distressed.
• Unusual motor movement, such as hand flapping.
“Early intervention is everything,” Madison says. “Getting your child evaluated — even if they don’t meet an autism diagnosis — could be a steppingstone toward other types of resources that could help your child succeed.”
Children who are assessed but don’t have autism might have ADHD, depression, or another condition — and whether it’s speech therapy, occupational therapy, or behavioral therapy, getting support as early as possible will help them succeed later in life.
Have questions about autism, ADOS-2, or other health services? Call Heartfelt Solutions at (502) 915-8343.