Diagnostic Services

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New Beginnings provides diagnostic services for children ages 18 months to five years old and up to assess for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). While an online autism test may list common autism traits, an in-person diagnostic evaluation can be used to access therapy and other treatment options. The evaluation is generally composed of tasks that measure intellectual, language, social-emotional, behavioral, and adaptive functioning. Moreover, the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition, considered to be the “gold standard” test in assessing for Autism Spectrum Disorder, is administered by a licensed psychologist.

A diagnostic evaluation can tell you more then an autism test alone.Early identification of ASD means early access to intervention, which ultimately improves your child’s prognosis. However, a diagnosis of ASD made in later childhood does not rule out the opportunity for tremendous growth for a child through intervention. Autism traits can often be identified before a child even turns 2-years-old. From predominantly ages 0-3, your child’s brain is evolving and developing the foundation upon which future learning occurs.

Ready to get started with an evaluation?

Benefits of a Diagnostic Evaluation

There are several benefits for obtaining a diagnostic evaluation for your child, as doing so ultimately helps your child to be placed on the pathway to success. Overall benefits of receiving a diagnostic evaluation:

  • A diagnostic evaluation will assist in identifying which specific interventions are likely to best enhance your child’s development.
  • The evaluation process allows for a deeper understanding of your child’s unique strengths, upon which these intervention plans can be based.
  • Evaluation findings will also guide recommendations for a child’s educational needs.

Our Psychologists can diagnose the following:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Global Developmental Delay
  • Intellectual Developmental Disorder
  • Language Disorder

How Our Autism Assessment Process Works

Prior to the evaluation appointment, parents will complete forms that outline several questions about your child’s medical, developmental, social-emotional, and behavioral history.

The in-person evaluation appointment will involve the psychologist working directly with your child to assess their development and functioning. Your child will most likely complete testing components one-on-one with the psychologist, though parents may be required to be present in the room during specific components of testing.

Want to know if your child is meeting developmental milestones? Download our Typical Milestones Infographic.

Find up to date CDC Act Early Milestones here.

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What can I expect during a psychological evaluation for ASD?

A psychologist will conclude a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) based on a review of your child’s records, parent questionnaires, information obtained from you during a clinical interview, and psychological tests conducted on the day of testing. Testing will usually involve an assessment of your child’s cognitive abilities, an assessment of their language abilities, and an assessment of Autism.

How common is autism?

Approximately 1 in 36 children have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder. More information about data and statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder can be viewed at: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

How are early signs of ASD usually observed?

Symptoms of ASD become present during the early developmental period (by 12 to 24 months); however, depending upon an individual’s presentation of ASD these signs may not become fully apparent until social demands are intensified in later years, such as early elementary school. Parents often first observe delays in language development, lack of social interest, seemingly unusual social interactions (communicating by pulling their parent’s arms/hands rather than looking at them), or inconsistent responsiveness to their name.

What are the different types of autism?

In the past, there were different types of Autism diagnoses given which you may have heard about such as Asperger’s Disorder and Autistic Disorder; however, these diagnoses have since been consolidated into one diagnosis, Autism Spectrum Disorder. Each person with Autism Spectrum Disorder differs from another, thus we provide additional specifiers with the diagnosis to note how much support someone needs (Levels 1, 2, and 3), whether they also present with co-occurring intellectual impairment or language impairment, and whether their diagnosis is associated with other medical, genetic, neurodevelopmental, mental, or behavioral problems.

Are there other diagnoses that may be considered when evaluating for autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder often co-occurs with other diagnoses, such as the following: Global Developmental Delay, Intellectual Developmental Disorder (Intellectual Disability), Language Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and anxiety disorders.

Meet the New Beginnings Team!

Dr. Deija McLean

Dr Deija McLeanDr. Deija McLean is a Licensed Psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with extensive training and expertise in serving individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and related neurodevelopmental disorders. She earned her Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Missouri, with a focus in Applied Behavior Analysis. Dr. McLean’s dissertation involved evaluating predictors of self-injurious behaviors and aggression in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

She completed an American Psychological Association (APA)-accredited predoctoral internship at the Kennedy Krieger Institute where she provided outpatient behavioral services to children and adolescents with developmental disabilities who exhibited severe challenging behaviors and behavioral parent training to families affected by challenging behaviors and related to concerns. Dr. McLean completed her postdoctoral fellowship at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital where she conducted diagnostic evaluations for those with suspected neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and provided behavior therapy services to support skill acquisition and reduction of challenging behaviors.

Dr. McLean previously served as a Clinical Assistant Professor within the Behavior Analysis and Therapy program at Southern Illinois University where she specialized in teaching courses related to Autism Spectrum Disorder and behavior analytic procedures, in addition to supervising graduate student thesis projects. She has co-authored journal publications related to treating insomnia in children with Autism, effective emotional and behavioral interventions in school settings, influences of teacher burnout and self-efficacy, and the utility of school psychologists as mental health providers. Dr. McLean’s clinical passions include connecting families with services and resources, supporting families in improving quality of life, and collaborating with other service providers.

Educational History:

Doctor of Philosophy, School Psychology
University of Missouri (APA Accredited), 2020

Graduate Certificate, Applied Behavior Analysis
University of Missouri, 2018

Bachelor of Science in Education, Early and Middle Childhood Studies
The Ohio State University, 2015

 Dr. Matthew Mason, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA

Dr. Matthew Mason

Dr. Matthew Mason is a licensed clinical psychologist with 25 years of experience diagnosing and supporting children, adolescents and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disabilities, He has held clinical and leadership positions in community-based service programs, treatment clinics, special educational programs, and institutions. A graduate of Western Michigan University, a founding school for Applied Behavior Analysis, Matthew holds a doctoral-level national board certification (BCBA-D). He also has extensive history in providing family-based counseling, especially for families that are raising children on the Spectrum.

Matthew was previously appointed as a Professor of Pediatrics at Georgetown University. He is also a Senior Science Advisor at Disabilities Rights International, where he provides pro bono supports for investigating human rights abuses internationally. Matthew is married and has raised two wonderful sons, one of whom is neuro-atypical and is now enrolled in graduate school. He is the guardian of his Deaf brother-in-law, who has multiple disabilities and resides in a supported living program for adults in Maryland.