A Note on Autism Assessments: Time and Money
Read the previous post at: Autism Assessment, Part 1.
First, and most importantly, even though my 2006 assessment was mere a "confirmation" for the University of Minnesota, it was neither a short nor an inexpensive process. The interviews of my wife, notes and comments from my parents, the interview with me, and the review of neurological exams required some time before the testing was performed. Reviewing records and interviews is expensive and time-consuming.
We even tried to locate a copy of the 1976 assessment. The confirmation for the U. of Minn. was required to either support or challenge previous assessments and diagnoses. The diagnostic criteria for various conditions and the evaluation instruments have been revised repeatedly during my 40+ years of life.
The actual exams are administered by three different individuals, not including the neurological scans and tests. You can see why this can be an expensive process with technicians, physicians, psychologists, and at least one psychiatrist (M.D. / Ph.D.) in mix.
The exams take days, and were not consecutively administered (thankfully). There were at least a dozen related appointments during the late fall months of 2006 before the written assessment was issued on December 4, 2006. Those tests are not cheap and insurance did not pay for everything.
By comparison, the local school district paid for any evaluations done in 1976. I wish that were available to all parents, but at the time I was listed as "birth trauma" and "brain trauma" in the student records. A brain injury, which is considered a physical handicap, qualified me for free evaluation. My parents probably remember far more about that than I do, since I was only eight.
I'm not sure what parents are supposed to do when a school or public service requires an updated or new evaluation. I'm sorry to report that I don't have any great suggestions. My advice would be to contact local universities with autism specialists. Maybe they know of free or subsidized assessment services.
Remember, a "school psychologist" is not the same as a clinician. The evaluation I received in 1976 would not and does not meet most university standards. I've mentioned this before: the educational standards and licensing are different for school support personnel when compared to practicing independent clinicians. That doesn't mean some psychologists are not employed by schools; you might be in a district with a licensed clinician.
I'll be posting more of the written notes from the neuropsychologist this week, but I cannot (since I wasn't there) write anything about the interview my wife had with the team or what other family members might or might not have reported to evaluators during previous assessments.