What to expect for your autism and developmental disabilities appointment
If a parent or a pediatrician suspects a child may have autism or another developmental disability, it can be a time of confusion and uncertainty for families as to how to proceed.
One of the first things families want to know is where to turn to get answers. The UT Southwestern and Children's Health℠ Center for Autism Care has diverse and world-class clinicians who can assist families through the diagnostic process, and provide medical and psychological treatments.
We also refer to services in the community for longer term behavioral interventions, and work with parents to help facilitate their interactions with school systems.
A good place to start for most families is to get an understanding of autism or other suspected developmental disorders. Early diagnosis and treatment are extremely important for a child with autism, so if you or your pediatrician have concerns, it is important to act and schedule an evaluation rather than wait.
Most families’ journeys begin with a diagnosis from school or a pediatrician. We request that pediatricians complete a referral form. Please see the Referral Information page for more information.
Once we have received medical/school records and the initial records review is complete, a scheduler will work with you to set up a time for an appointment. They will also provide you an intake questionnaire specific to the provider you will be seeing. This should be returned to us prior to your appointment.
Arriving for your child's appointment
Please plan to arrive 30 minutes early to your initial appointment to allow for parking, checking in and completing paperwork. If you are more than 15 minutes late for your scheduled time, your child’s appointment may be rescheduled.
If you need to cancel or reschedule, please call us as soon as possible at 214-456-7700. We ask that you give at least 48 hours’ notice for cancellations or rescheduling. This will help us to fill that time slot with another family who is waiting for our help. An appointment canceled after 3 p.m. the day before the appointment will be documented as a “no show,” and you may incur costs, depending on your insurance plan.
The Center is an in-network provider on many insurance plans and we accept cash payment for our services. If you have questions about our fees, we can provide an estimate of the costs and what your insurance may cover. Payment plans are also available.
During your appointment
The Center for Autism Care follows an interdisciplinary model. This means that an array of professionals may take part in your visit including: a psychiatrist, psychologist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, neurologist and/or behavior analyst. The clinicians who will be present on the day of the evaluation is individualized for your child, depending on the reason for referral and/or your child’s specific needs. This will determine the number of appointments that will be required to complete the evaluation. An initial consultation is all that is necessary for some children. Other children may need further testing.
During the appointment, our team will gather information about your child’s medical and developmental history, cognitive functioning, language and social communication, behavior, and adaptive skills. Diagnoses are made through our clinical observation of your child, medical tests, and information you provide about your child’s development.
A member of our research team may also talk with you about our current research studies. You are under no obligation to take part in the Center’s research efforts, but will have the chance to learn more about our opportunities or be listed on a research registry.
After your appointment
After your evaluation, we will review our findings with you and discuss the next appropriate steps for your family. Our team may recommend that your child receive further services within the Center, or you may be referred to community providers close to your home.