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Should I Have My Child Evaluated for Autism?   By Sheena Lee, DMSc, PA-C

Should I Have My Child Evaluated for Autism?   By Sheena Lee, DMSc, PA-C , , MedPsych Behavioral Health, Bergen County Moms

A parent who suspects their child might have autism often finds themselves on an emotional and uncertain journey. You may have observed differences in your child's development, behavior, social interactions, or communication patterns that raise concerns. Naturally, you want to know what is going on with your child, and you need an answer now. Parents often receive conflicting information when trying to find answers, and it can be exhausting to try to interpret it all. Is it time to get a formal evaluation? How do I do that?

The first step is to take note of what challenges your child is having. Some early indicators may be developmental delays, such as delayed speaking, unusual language development, difficulty interacting with others, or trouble with coordination or motor skill delays. It may be difficult to get their attention, as they may not make adequate eye contact and may seem preoccupied. They may have a high activity level, or a very low activity level, notably different than their peers.

If your child is in the elementary school age, you might be seeing difficulty in school or difficulty making friends. You might have seen “repetitive behaviors,” in which your child is doing the same things again and again, even when it doesn't seem to make sense to others. Perhaps you find your child intensely interested in an unusual topic and all they want to do is talk about it or play with specific toys related to this topic. Their play might be unusual as well, arranging objects or reciting phrases repeatedly while playing, or perhaps you have not seen any imagination at all.

Maybe you are a parent of an adolescent who is having some difficulties, and you are wondering about autism. One of the most common difficulties we see in this age group is with social interaction. These adolescents have not kept up with their peers in terms of socializing, interacting with others, and making or maintaining friendships. There is sometimes a history of the adolescent being bullied at some point, and anxiety may occur in a variety of social situations. It may be difficult for them to have conversations on topics other than their specific interests. They may miss social cues, not understanding when (or why) someone is upset with them. They may not respond in a typical way to another person’s emotions, seeming rude or inconsiderate. These are just a few examples of a wide array of social difficulties that we see in autism.

Should I Have My Child Evaluated for Autism?   By Sheena Lee, DMSc, PA-C , , MedPsych Behavioral Health, Bergen County Moms

If you have noticed any of these difficulties, or perhaps see difficulties not listed above but commonly associated with autism, the next step is to get a comprehensive evaluation. Not all clinicians can identify autism in just one brief visit, so it is essential that your child’s development and symptoms are evaluated accurately. The use of standardized measures, or tests, is the gold standard when it comes to diagnosing autism. You want to make sure that where you go for an evaluation is using such tests, but also that the evaluator has the time to listen to all of your concerns and the expertise to identify lesser-known symptoms of autism.

At MedPsych Behavioral Health we offer this service. It works like this: You and your child come to our office for an in-person evaluation with one of our trained clinicians who specializes in autism. You may also bring along any other informative adults who know your child well. Our clinicians will ask questions to learn about your child’s development, behavior, and social interaction. Some tests may be administered to your child which may include some play or other age-appropriate activities to observe how your child interacts with others and assess their developmental skills. At the conclusion of this evaluation, your clinician will discuss the findings with you and provide you with an initial clinical impression on whether your child has autism. You will receive a comprehensive report within a week which will include any recommendations that may be helpful for your child.

There are many benefits of having your child evaluated when there are concerns. An accurate and timely diagnosis opens the door for support and services your child needs to be successful. We know that receiving a diagnosis for your child (whatever it may be) can be overwhelming, surprising, upsetting, or even a relief. Our main goal is to approach your child’s case with compassion and care, as if you were family. We'll be here to answer your questions and help you access resources and interventions tailored to your child’s needs.

If you are interested in an autism diagnostic evaluation, please sign up for a consultation at For more information on autism, you can watch our recorded recent webinar here.

Sheena Lee is a doctoral trained Physician Assistant with MedPsych Behavioral Health who specializes in Psychiatry services for children, adolescents, and adults. With over 12 years of experience as a PA, Sheena is passionate about helping children and families live happy and healthy lives. Sheena is one of MedPsych’s lead providers of autism diagnostic testing services.

By utilizing a conservative and holistic approach to medications and advocating for Care Coordination, patients receive an individualized treatment plan with focus given to their health and well-being.

MedPsych Behavioral Health, Bergen County Moms

545 Island Road, Suite 2B & 3D, Ramsey, NJ 07446

180 Old Tappan Road, Building 3, 2nd Floor, Old Tappan, NJ 07675

MedPsych Behavioral Health provides psychiatry, psychotherapy and testing services to children, teens, and adults. MedPsych has offices in Ramsey, Old Tappan and Montclair, and offers in-person and tele-based services. For more information visit, email or call 201.995.1004.


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