Should You Seek Diagnosis?
When an individual begins to understand AS, and consider it possibly
affecting either himself/herself or someone he/she loves, the question
becomes whether or not to seek diagnosis. There is no easy answer to
that question. Remember that this analysis will be based on the
situation in Central Oregon in the United States in 2003. If these
criteria does not equate to your situation, your analysis and decision
might be very different.
There are very few professionals anywhere who really know
and understand AS and the full ASD spectrum. It is a new field, and the
education process has not incorporated it into the training necessary
for degrees. It is too new to be other than a cursory mention in
textbooks—and there are just too few knowledgeable professionals to
instruct classes in it (especially if the training was obtained here in
Oregon). So your first question might be “how much am I willing to
spend to find out if it is AS?” If you have a limited budget, that
might be your answer. At this time it is very difficult to get any
insurance company to help pay for identifications of ASD or AS. In
addition, very few insurance companies will pay for the therapies that
AS or ASD might find helpful. It is best to start with the public
programs that are available to help all citizens rather than just
starting out on your own. Remember that the education department, and
all the individual governmental agencies (e.g. SSI, DD, Mental Health,
etc) will want to run their own tests, and none of them will accept the
medical diagnosis carte-blanche.
No matter what your age your first call should be on the
Central Oregon Family Resource Center (www.frconline.org).
This agency has a wonderful directory and willing staff to help you find
whom you should contact, and how to reach them.
If you have a preschooler and are concerned about AS, please be aware
that early diagnosis, and intervention programs have proved highly
successful. There are many different programs available for children
from birth to 5 years old, as well as programs to aid parents of that
age group. Not all of them are designed for a child with developmental
problems, so you will need to really find out about the programs before
committing your time and effort to them.
For a school-aged child, contact your local school even if
you are home schooling your student. You as parent can request
evaluation for your child. Be very clear in stating what you want. By
the rules of the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), there are 4
criteria that must ALL be met before a child can be recommended for
further testing. From the ODE website, this criteria is:
Autism - A developmental disability typically affecting the
processing, integrating, and organizing of information that
significantly impacts communication, social interaction,
functional skills, and educational performance. Essential
features, generally appearing during the first three years,
(A) Inconsistencies or discrepancies in the development of
physical, language, social, or cognitive skills;
(B) Unusual responses to sensory information;
(C) Impaired verbal/nonverbal language or social
(D) Impaired ability to relate to people or the environment.
The term does not apply if a child's educational performance
is adversely affected primarily because the child has a
serious emotional disturbance. However, a child who
qualifies for special education under the category of autism
may also have a serious emotional disturbance as a secondary
disability if the child meets the criteria under serious
If you are an adult, or concerned about an adult, there are many
different agencies that might be able to help you. At the present time,
your most assistance might come from contacting the Vocational
Rehabilitation Division of the State of Oregon. But, this is a rapidly
expanding and changing field.
No matter what the age of the ASPIE in your life, you will
find that attending a local support group will give you additional
insight and information that you will be unable to obtain simply from
books. The Special Needs Resource Center at the Alyce Hatch Center is
available for anyone to access books, printed material, and computer
information on any disabilities, developmental delays, and educational
needs of anyone with special needs, and AS is definitely included. The
Special Needs Resource Center is free to all who want to use it. In
addition, there are many chat groups and information sites on the
Internet that might help you.