Getting help from specialists when you suspect autism

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Getting help from specialists when you suspect autism

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There are many different kinds of providers who can make a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder. The decision of which one to go see is going to depend largely upon what is available in your community, what your pediatrican recommends and what kinds of interventions you're really looking for. For example, you might go see a child psychologist. A child psychologist would typically perform some psychometric testing in order to get a baseline of the child's functioning in terms of their cognitive abilities, their adaptive skills and then they would also look at their social communication abilities. That provider would then provide a treatment plan for the child's comprehensive of school state-run services, functioning within the communities, social functioning, things along those lines. Another provider that a parent can go see is a developmental pediatrican. A developmental pediatrician may or may not perform psychometric testing and can make the diagnosis. They are unique in that they will also be able to provide parents information or help with things like diets or allergies and other biomedical interventions; medication would be another one. A parent could also see a pediatric neurologist who would make the diagnosis primarily based on observing the child and they would also be a provider that a parent would go see if they were seeking medication to manage some of their child's symptoms.

View Allison Kawa, PsyD's video on Getting help from specialists when you suspect autism...

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Allison Kawa, PsyD

Child Psychologist

Alison Kawa is a licensed child psychologist specializing in the evaluation of children and adolescents.  Her pre- and post-doctoral training emphasized child and adolescent testing.  She was a fellow in the UCLA Autism Evaluation Clinic where she acquired extensive training in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders and a range of other developmental disorders.  During this time, she also obtained certification from the University of Michigan Autism and Communication Disorders Center (UMACC) on the gold standard instruments (i.e., ADI-R and ADOS) used in autism evaluations.  Following her fellowship, she became Senior Assessor at UCLA where she worked for four years.

Alison completed the PsychoEducational Diagnostic Services Program (PEDS) Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Pediatric Assessment at the Reiss Davis Child Study Center at Vista Del Mar.  In this setting, she conducted comprehensive psychoeducational evaluations for children and adolescents with a diverse range of issues including ADHD, Learning Disabilities, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders.  She also completed the Child Therapy in a School Setting program offered by Phillips Graduate Institute, where she gained training and experience in play therapy, social skills groups, and therapeutic interventions appropriate for adolescents. 

While completing her graduate training in psychology, she held a staff position at Working With Autism, Inc., where she worked individually with children with autism, provided case management and supervision, and developed and implemented a staff-training curriculum.  It was through this position that she acquired a love for teaching and training. In addition to her private practice, she teaches pre- and post-doctoral fellows at the Reiss Davis Child Study Center at Vista Del Mar, where she also works as a supervisor and consultant.

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