Navigating the world of neurodiversity can be a challenging yet rewarding journey for every person touched by variances in brain function and those who love them. Autism advocates describe autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as a neurodivergent condition affecting how the person may communicate, understand, learn, and behave, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In many cases, neurodivergent tests can help individuals and their caregivers initiate the process of identifying autism, obtain a clinical diagnosis from a licensed medical provider, and access evidence-based interventions like ABA therapy, also called Applied Behavior Analysis, often covered by insurance for many children and teenagers.
Fortunately, ABA care addresses many of the complex features of neurodiversity that can make daily life more challenging while highlighting a client’s strengths.
This blog by ABA Centers of America provides caregivers and allies of children and teens on the spectrum with an all-inclusive guide to understanding neurodivergent tests. We’ll explore their purpose, a few options, and when you should consider utilizing them.
Whether you’re a parent, educator, or provider striving to gain a more comprehensive overview of neurodiversity or a neurodivergent person wanting to learn more about available testing systems, this guide will offer insight and the resources to help you make the best choice for you.
What Is Neurodivergent Testing? Why Is It Important for Parents to Understand?
Neurodivergent testing involves screening and assessing individuals who may demonstrate atypical neurological development or functioning. These tests can be helpful for parents and individuals who suspect they may be neurodivergent by helping them identify core traits and areas needing more support.
With neurodivergent tests, parents and individuals on the spectrum can also learn valuable insights into their or their loved one’s talents, limitations, and learning styles, ultimately improving their quality of life and how they interpret the world.
Therefore, it’s helpful for parents to understand neurodivergent testing and when to consult with a qualified medical professional if they suspect the presence of neurodiversity. While neurodivergent tests can be beneficial, they are only one diagnosis component.
There are several types of neurodivergent tests available today, and the following support many in more deeply understanding their neurodiversity, amongst many others not featured:
- RAADS-14 Screen: Ritvo Autism and Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised: A self-reporting instrument evaluating features of autism through 14 questions. This abridged tool can help guide further diagnosis by examining mental impairments, social anxiety, and sensory responsiveness. Sometimes, this test helps detect some who “escape” clinical assessments.
- The Autism Quotient (AQ) is a self-reporting questionnaire consisting of 50 questions measuring the potential of autism in adults demonstrating an average IQ.
- The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition (ADOS-2) This test evaluates behavior, communication, and social interaction to help diagnose autism through observational assessment by a trained clinician.
Some neurodivergent tests are self-administered. In other cases, licensed medical professionals with specialized training administer tests in a clinical setting. To reach an accurate diagnosis, licensed clinicians utilize a combination of standardized assessments like these alongside interviews in a comprehensive evaluation.
It’s important to understand that no single neurodivergent test is a standalone tool or a one-size-fits-all approach to diagnosing neurodiversity. Still, they can be helpful aids in an individual’s intervention.
Identifying Signs of Neurodivergence and What Parents Should Do
If you’re a parent, noticing your child behaving differently from their peers can be concerning. While some children reach developmental milestones at different paces or have distinct personalities, others may demonstrate neurodivergent behavior associated with neurodivergent conditions not limited to autism, dyslexia, ADHD, intellectual disabilities, and other mental health diagnoses.
Signs of potentional neurodiversity include but are not limited to many of the following:
- Delayed speech or language skills
- Difficulty understanding and following instructions
- Compromised focus
- Lack of eye contact or social interaction
- Repetitive behaviors and strict adherence to routines
- Sensory sensitivities (e.g., aversion to certain textures, sounds, etc.)
- Difficulty with change or transitions
- Poor motor skills or coordination
- Inflexible thinking or difficulty with problem-solving
- Heightened anxiety levels
It’s important to remember that some individuals may exhibit these behaviors without being neurodivergent. However, suppose your child or teen displays any of these signs. In that case, it is best to consider clinical support and provide early intervention. From there, it’s essential to manage your or your loved one’s situation with compassion, patience, and an open mind.
Evaluating Neurodivergent Test Results and Working with a Professional
Evaluating neurodivergent test results can be a nerve-wracking experience, primarily because of the feelings the results may elicit and because they may be confusing for some. Working with a qualified professional can help decipher the results and provide expert guidance on the next steps.
While the proper assistance can make the clinical evaluation process complex and confusing, the protocol can be manageable. In fact, for many, neurodivergent testing is the catalyst for growth, acceptance, and developmental expansion.
Additionally, whether the results confirm an individual’s suspected diagnosis or uncover something else unexpected, having the support of a professional can assist in managing any struggles that may arise. A professional who understands neurodiversity can also help you better understand your circumstances and how to proceed for the most optimal future possible.
How Neurodivergent Tests Can Lead to Better Outcomes with ABA Therapy
Neurodivergent tests can be helpful tools in enhancing the results of ABA therapy for those receiving care and getting started on their ABA journey after receiving an autism diagnosis. The results of various neurodivergent tests help ABA providers refine ABA plans and the client’s engagement throughout sessions.
Board Certified Behavior analysts (BCBAs) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) tailor ABA interventions based on the individual’s neurodivergent traits and what they find meaningful and motivating. By identifying deficits, ABA therapy can target behavior and routines to improve social interactions, daily living skills, and independence in clients.
Utilizing neurodivergent testing for ABA therapy can help provide more personalized, extensive, and effective therapy care for those on the spectrum.
Understanding Why Neurodivergent Testing Matters
Neurodivergent testing provides an excellent opportunity for parents and individuals who suspect they may be neurodiverse to understand their traits better and immediately get the support they need. While neurodivergent testing can be a complex process for some, consulting an expert for the best testing outcomes is strongly recommended. Additionally, it’s imperative to recognize there are many testing options available, but no one tool diagnoses autism.
If you or your child exhibits signs of neurodiversity, starting with an ABA provider as soon as possible is critical. The earlier the ABA intervention begins, the more significant clinical benefits caregivers can expect, including functional improvements, reduced complex behavior, increased self-confidence, and improved communication.
More About ABA Centers of America
If you suspect your child or teen may be neurodivergent, explore ABA therapy and autism diagnostic services with ABA Centers of America. Our team of autism experts can help you understand your neurodivergent test results or put you on the path to getting tested so you can take the best next steps for your family if autism is detected.
Call (844) 923-4222 or contact us here to learn more about how we can support families experiencing neurodiversity in achieving meaningful outcomes on their level at our clinic and through in-home ABA therapy services.
We know neurodiversity looks different for everyone. Let us support your loved one with autism in the best way possible now with ABA therapy.
We offer the essential autism care you need and deserve.