Why an autism diagnosis is difficult before age two

Allison Kawa, Child Psychologist, explains why it is difficult to diagnose a child with autism before age two.
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Why an autism diagnosis is difficult before age two

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Parents are often eager to get an early diagnosis for their child so that they can get going with interventions. What the research is showing is that we can reliably diagnose autism spectrum disorders in children as young as two years old. When they become under two years old, we are really looking at children who are risk for developing an autism spectrum disorder because they haven't had enough time to develop many of the skills that need to be delayed to qualify for an autism spectrum diagnosis.

Allison Kawa, Child Psychologist, explains why it is difficult to diagnose a child with autism before age two.

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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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