What Is The Right Age To Diagnose?

autismI often get questions from families like “Is my child too young to be tested?” “Why should we test her now? Won’t she grow out of it?” “Is it fair to label them so young?” “I’m already past school age, what point is there to have an evaluation now?” Hopefully this article can help make the important decision of when is the right time to undergo psychological testing.

Birth to Five: This is a critical period for evaluating any developmental concerns. Children in this age range are still developing their motor and language skills. If there is a concern for delay in any developmental area (social, motor, language, play, cognitive), early intervention can help maximize development and help your child “catch up” to the best of their abilities. A diagnosis often can help access the essential services you may need for your child.

School Age: Children in this age range may have been previously been undetected, but as social demands increase, behavioral and emotional concerns previously overlooked may be more apparent. Children in this age group are forming peer relationships, and may experience anxiety or social withdrawal. Bullying and self-esteem concerns can also arise in this age period. Further, as academic challenges increase, your child’s learning differences may become evident, and academic interventions may be helpful. A psychological evaluation at this age period may help implement social and school supports that will help your child’s development.

Adolescence: This is the age period where social demands increase even more, and social differences may become more apparent. Identity is being formed and developed at this age. Mood, behavior, and ones’ concept of self may become troublesome for your teen or family. An evaluation can help guide school and family interventions, as well as help with future planning for your child’s eventual adulthood and level of independence.

Young Adulthood: The structure, schedule, and reliability of high school is gone, and suddenly a young adult is faced with what feels like infinite choices and possibilities. This can feel overwhelming and daunting. An assessment at this period of time can help guide higher education supports and services, as well as help with career planning and independence needs.

Adulthood: Perhaps it feels like you’ve tried everything. An evaluation can help determine what is really going on, help to support mood or anxiety, and help with career and futures planning. Family support and futures planning can also be addressed with an assessment at this stage of life.

Throughout all of these life stages, re-evaluations are recommended every 1-3 years. This helps track gains and improvements made from interventions, and monitor the risk of any co-occurring diagnoses (for example, anxiety and depression often correlate, and an anxiety diagnosis should be monitored for possible depression symptoms.)

Upside Therapy is happy to offer psychological evaluations through every stage of life. To schedule an appointment, please contact (469)708-9021.