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Diagnostic Testing

Providing clarity and direction on your child’s needs

Our Approach

Meet Dr. Brenda

Our Process

Diagnosing Autism

Bilingual Tests

FAQs

Diagnostic Testing Overview

Diagnostic testing is the collection and integration of information on an individual’s functioning, to 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 completed by a licensed clinical psychologist. Once completed, 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 test.

Diagnostic Testing at Westside

The process of diagnostic testing is new for most families and may feel overwhelming at first. At Westside, we do everything to counteract this. 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 led by Dr. Brenda 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.

Meet Dr. Brenda!

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.

The Process

We designed our diagnostic testing process with kids and parents as the focus. It includes 3 sessions: (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.

Step 1: Parent Interview 

Dr. Brenda 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 Dr. Brenda and have confidence that things are moving in the right direction.

Step 2: Testing  

Dr. Brenda will schedule “play dates” for the child. In an inviting, kid-friendly environment, the child and Dr. Brenda will work through the testing protocols. 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, albeit in a way that does not overwhelm the child.

Step 3: Feedback Session  

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. Dr. Brenda’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.

Diagnosing Autism

Diagnostic testing is effective in the diagnosis for autism. Some of the most common symptoms seen in children with autism include:

  • Loss of previously acquired verbal skills
  • Unusual response to sensory input
  • Failure to make eye contact
  • Little interest in other children or caretakers
  • Lack of body language and gestures
  • Difficulty transitioning
  • Obsessive interest in a particular topic
  • Loss of previously acquired social skills

Bilingual Diagnostics

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.

FAQs

How do I know if my child needs a diagnostic evaluation?

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.

How much does it cost?

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.

Where are the diagnostic evaluations completed?

Diagnostic evaluations are most often completed at our facility in Wheaton, IL. That said, we’re here to make your life easier. Westside has clinic locations throughout the Chicagoland, and we are happy to accommodate you by conducting parts or all of the evaluations at a clinic that is closer to you.

What is the difference between a medical diagnosis and an educational assessment?

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.

How to Get Started

Families interested in diagnostic testing should call our Intake team at (815) 469-1500 or complete the form below.