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Tulane Center for Autism & Related Disorders (TCARD) ~ Diagnostic Services

During the first visit to TCARD, a parent interview, child observation, and a review of records is conducted. At the conclusion of the first visit, the child assessment will be scheduled for approximately 1-2 weeks later. Finally, the feedback session will be scheduled. This schedule can change due to travel circumstances. See below for a more full description of each component.

Records Review: Prior to your appointment, you are asked to complete a packet that will ask you about your concerns and your child’s developmental, medical, and social history. No appointments can be scheduled until this packet is received completed in its entirety. In addition, you should also provide any reports of previous evaluations that your child has received or school records that may be helpful in this process (e.g. copy of IEP). It is very helpful for the team to review information from other clinicians such as speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists.

Parent Interview: During the parent interview, the team will meet you and your child, obtain more information about your child’s medical history, and ask questions about his/her behavior and development. The parent interview usually takes around an hour to complete.

play desk

Child Assessment: This portion of the evaluation involves behavioral observations and administration of standardized tests. The team may complete tests in three main areas: cognitive skills, adaptive behavior, and ASD specific assessments. Additionally, other assessments may be administered to look at other areas such as language, neuropsychological functioning, motor coordination, and psychological functioning if this is deemed helpful in the evaluation. This process can take 2-8 hours, depending on your child’s age and skills. Evaluations for older children tend to take longer. It is a good idea for you to bring comfort items and snacks for your child (and yourself) during this component. If the testing goes past noon, you and your child will be given an hour break for lunch. There are restaurants to walk to nearby. Much of the testing will include working on short tasks such as listening to stories, making lists, and playing with blocks and toys. Many of our patients find the testing fun and it’s helpful to explain this to your child in advance. There is a social story available to familiarize the child with the process. While your child is testing, you will also be asked to complete some questionnaires and checklists.

Feedback Session: After the evaluation, the psychologist will have a feedback session with you. These appointments are typically scheduled within 1-2 weeks of the testing in order to give the team time to score up the evaluations and write a quality report. During the feedback session, the psychologist will share with you the results of the testing and the diagnosis. This appointment typically takes about an hour. Ultimately, an ASD diagnosis is based on past history, test results, behavioral observations, and the team’s clinical judgment. At this time, the psychologist will provide you with recommendations specifically formulated for your child. This is an important time for you to ask questions. A formal written report will also be provided. We will also provide you with information about helpful resources.