PROVIDING CLARITY AND DIRECTION ON YOUR CHILD’S NEEDS
Diagnostic assessment is the collection and integration of information on an individual’s functioning to identify strengths and weaknesses and inform treatment planning. It includes assessment measures (interviews, questionnaires, and tests) that are carefully chosen to answer the referral question and/or concerns.
Parents may choose diagnostic testing to both explore an appropriate diagnosis for their child, and to gain important insight into what supports might be helpful at home, school, or in the community.
Diagnostic tests are provided by a licensed clinical psychologist and/or a neuropsychologist. Once completed by the child and/or parent, a feedback session is set up and a diagnostic report is generated. The report is reviewed with the family to guide next steps for getting the child the support they need.
The approval for ABA Therapy requires a diagnosis of autism, which can only be determined through a diagnostic assessment.
The process of diagnostic testing is new for most families and may feel overwhelming at first. At Westside, we do everything we can to support and help along the way. We provide a warm, kid-friendly environment that puts families at ease. We use a unique process that provides as much time as needed for families to get questions answered and gain confidence in the path forward. Most importantly, our team is as supportive and likable as you could ever hope for.
As a long-standing, reputable provider of specialty therapy services to children, Westside is uniquely positioned to complement diagnostic testing with deep expertise in sensory, language, social-emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioral development. This expertise is used to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of your child during the diagnostic testing process.
Dr. Brenda is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who received her Doctorate in Psychology at Texas A&M University. Her experience is unique in that she has worked extensively as a psychologist in both school and medical settings. She has worked in school districts, medical centers, outpatient clinics, and therapy centers. She is specialized in conducting psychological evaluations for children with autism, ADHD, and other developmental concerns.
Dr. Brenda is bilingual and offers evaluations in either English or Spanish. She is cross-culturally trained with published research on Hispanic family dynamics and often speaks publicly about her experiences.
In addition to her credentials and unique expertise, Dr. Brenda’s personality sets her part. She is adored by parents for her listening skills, genuine and sensitive approach, and the “lean on me” support she gives parents through a difficult process. Kids love working with her, too, as she builds rapport quickly and transforms a complex medical process into fun play-dates that kids are excited for.
Dr. Brad is a Board Certified Neuropsychologist who received his Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from Midwestern University, and completed his postdoctoral experience in Clinical Neuropsychology with a focus in development disorders. He has worked with companies in various capacities for nearly 10 years beginning with his diagnostic training in an autism and family resource center. He provides individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, and assessment services to individuals and families whose child or family member is diagnosed with a developmental disability or related disorder.
He also previously headed up the clinical psychology training program in Autism and neurodevelopmental disorders assessment, therapy, and community services. Dr. Czochara has worked with families and educators to provide services and resources for their child or adult family members across the lifespan and with topics such as new/first diagnosis, IEP, transition planning, neurocognitive/neurofeedback training, guardianship, disability, and residential services. He enjoys working with the community and families to better provide education and collaboration between families, schools, and clinical services.
We designed our diagnostic testing process with kids and parents as the focus. It includes 3 parts: (1) Parent Interview, (2) Testing, and (3) Feedback Session. At each step of the process, the experience is tailored to meet the parent’s or child’s needs. We are genuine in our desire to get to know you and your child. We are thoughtful about the child’s comfort levels, and we are generous in our time and support in discussing the results.
Our diagnostic team meets with parents to learn from them – who their child is, what the parent’s concerns are, and their goals in the diagnostic process. By the end, parents should feel comfortable with our clinicians and the testing process, and have confidence that testing and working with our team are moving in the right direction.
Our diagnostic team will schedule “play dates” for the child. In an inviting, kid-friendly environment, the child and the examiner will work through the testing protocols, which sometimes might be called “activities” instead of “tests.” The goal is to make the child comfortable and to make the testing process as fun as possible. The goal is to be thorough in order to provide a comprehensive report to parents, but in a way that does not overwhelm the child.
Our approach to diagnostic testing is not to simply achieve a “Yes/No” diagnosis. Instead, the goal is to provide understanding to parents on their child’s specific needs. We achieve this through a separate meeting where results are discussed. This conversation is the most important part of the process. As such, we give parents as much time as they need to ask as many questions as they would like. Our team’s goal is for parents to leave this session with a deep understanding of what was found in testing and and a sense of direction for what is next. If any questions arise after this session, parents are welcome to reach out for follow-up.
Diagnostic testing is effective in the diagnosis for autism. Some of the most common symptoms seen in children with autism include:
If the parents or child prefer that the diagnostic testing process be conducted in Spanish, Dr. Brenda is one of few clinicians in the area that can facilitate that process. More important than bridging the language barrier, Dr. Brenda bridges the cultural barrier. She can speak authentically to the culturally specific dynamics of Hispanic families.
Diagnostic evaluations are helpful for parents that are exploring an appropriate diagnosis for their child. The results of our evaluations can provide parents with clarity in this regard.
Perhaps the bigger benefit, though, is that diagnostic evaluations can provide parents with insight on the types of support that would be helpful for their child in school, at home, and in the community.
Cost depends on insurance coverage and how much of your deductible and out of pocket is met. We find that many of our families have insurance that is in-network, and that they have already met much of their out of pocket limits with other appointments. In these instances, the cost of a diagnostic evaluation is primarily covered by insurance.
Westside also has a financial support program called the Westside Foundation, which offers quarterly stipends to families seeking support with the financial costs of getting their child the help they need.
Diagnostic evaluations are most often completed at our facilities in Wheaton, IL and Orland Park, IL.
That said, Westside has over 25 clinic locations throughout the Chicagoland area, including Rockford and DeKalb, to provide any therapy services needed at a clinic that is closer to you.
A medical diagnosis will give you access to certain services covered by your health insurance and will provide an outside source of information if you need support from your school district.
Educational assessments are used to assess the needs for special education services in the school setting. They do not fulfill the medical criteria required by insurance companies to approve outpatient therapy services.
The screening below is designed to identify signs of autism in children aged 16 to 30 months. Please note that this is only meant to function as a quick screener, not a formal assessment or diagnosis. Formal testing is needed to diagnose autism. Read more about Diagnosing Autism.
The screener can help parents identify next steps and interventions at an early age. For example, early support through ABA Therapy is one of the most effective ways to improve long-term outcomes in young children diagnosed with autism.
Screener results will be either Low, Medium, or High Risk. Each level provides a brief recommendation on suggested next steps for assessment. However, if the screener leaves you with more questions than answers, you are more than welcome to reach out to the team at Westside. As another resource, you may find Westside’s “What is Autism?” page to be helpful, too.