Helping a child with autism through their formative years is a significant responsibility. Being able to assess, diagnose, and communicate effectively with caregivers can give neurodivergent children a toolbox of helpful strategies for navigating their world. Comprehensive knowledge can also help parents and caregivers provide intentional support for a child through all stages of life.
Selecting An Assessment
There are many assessment tools from which to choose. Rely on those that will give you reliable results with minimal impact on the child.
(CARS™2) Childhood Autism Rating Scale™
The (CARS™2) Childhood Autism Rating Scale™ (now in its second edition) helps identify children who may have autism. It requires only 5-10 minutes to administer and provides specific numerical data. It has two sets of 15 questions for the clinician and an unscored questionnaire for parents and caregivers.
(SRS™-2) Social Responsiveness Scale
The (SRS™-2) Social Responsiveness Scale, Second Edition, looks at observable social behaviors that may be limiting a person’s daily functioning. You can then rate the severity of those behaviors, and compare and contrast similar behaviors evidenced in other diagnoses. This test takes 15-20 minutes to be completed by parents, teachers, or social workers.
The autism diagnosis process is not complete just because of one successful assessment. People are not test scores. A proper diagnosis should include input from all the individuals who care for the child. These may include:
- school psychologists
- social workers
- occupational therapists
- speech-language pathologists
Following a multi-disciplinary approach ensures that the child’s strengths are at the forefront.
Supporting Parents and Caregivers
One of the challenges of helping a child with autism is supporting parents and caregivers. This task proves difficult in the early stages when professionals are responsible for communicating that a child has autism. News like this can be very overwhelming to parents.
Start With Strengths
Some parents and children eventually grow to see autism as a type of superpower that helps them stand out from others. Help parents nurture a positive sense of self in the child and highlight their strengths, whether social, emotional, intellectual, physical, or artistic.
Use Clear, Concise Language
Another way to help overcome barriers that parents and caregivers may experience is to avoid acronyms and jargon use. Communicate in a way that anyone could understand. Invite questions, then ask questions to make sure there are no misunderstandings.
Focus On Connection
Help reduce the isolation that caregivers sometimes feel. Suggest local support groups (in-person and online), therapy, education, and social services. Parents who have used these options report that it reduces their stress level, helps them see their child in a more positive light, and helps them adjust to caring for a child with autism.
Trust the Experts
WPS has decades of experience, innovative solutions, and outstanding customer service. Learn more about how they offer real help to kids in school using vetted assessment tools.