My Child Needs an ADOS…HELP!

Imagine this: your child is referred for an assessment. You recall hearing the word ‘autism’ mentioned, but other than that, you really can’t remember very much about what the assessment involves or what the potential outcomes of the assessment may be. Sounds nerve-wracking, right? For many parents, this reflects the experience of being referred for an ADOS. Below are a few of the most common questions parents have asked about the ADOS to help put your mind at ease.

What is the ADOS?

The Autism Diagnostic Observation Scales (ADOS) is a standardised assessment that looks at a child’s social interaction, communication skills, play and behaviour. It consists of four different modules: Module 1: pre-verbal/single words, Module 2: phrase speech, Module 3: fluent speech child/adolescent and Module 4: fluent speech adolescent/adult. A suitable module will be selected for your child based on their current level of communication.

What does it look like?

It is a play-based assessment, which means it involves lots of toys and fun activities, along with some pictures, books and a snack (please let your therapist know if your child has any food allergies). It may look like the clinician is just ‘playing’ with your child, but in fact they are using a set of carefully prescribed prompts in order to observe your child’s social and communication skills. Many children quite enjoy the ADOS. The therapist will also video the ADOS session. This allows them to go back after the assessment is completed and take detailed notes.


Who administers it?

Any therapist who has completed the ADOS training. Most often, this will be a speech-language pathologist or psychologist.

What do I need to do during the assessment?

Nothing, unless the therapist asks you to.  The majority of the assessment involves seeing how your child interacts with people outside of the family. If the therapist would like your input, they will ask you. Otherwise, you get to sit back and watch!


Will it tell me if my child is autistic?

No. Despite its name, the ADOS alone cannot diagnose your child with autism. However, the information it provides will be valuable for you paediatrician, who will consider it along with other information when looking at a possible diagnosis.

Why has my child been referred for an ADOS?

There are two main reasons that children are referred to LET’S TALK for an ADOS. Paediatricians often refer children who they think may be autistic. In this case, the ADOS provides additional information which helps the paediatrician in making diagnostic decisions. Secondly, children who are applying for placement at The Glenleighden School are often referred for an ADOS. In this case, the ADOS provides information regarding a child’s social interaction. This information helps determine whether The Glenleighden School will be a suitable placement for that particular child.


What happens next?

The therapist will write a report detailing your child’s strengths and weaknesses based on the ADOS session, with copies provided for you and the referring professional which will assist them in their decision-making. If at any time you have additional questions, the staff at LET’S TALK will be more than willing to help.

Sylvie Kellner

Speech Langauge Pathologist – LET’S TALK Developmental Hub

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