Suppose you are currently searching for information about the diagnosis of autism, especially concerning ADOS-2. In that case, you are likely doing so because a loved one has displayed characteristic signs of this disorder. It’s important to remember that you are not alone. Autism is a developmental disorder that an increasing number of families are facing today. Fortunately, ABA therapy is an evidence-based approach that has been studied for over four decades and can help individuals with autism spectrum disorder diagnosis develop life skills and achieve independence.
However, it is crucial to remember that before children begin ABA therapy, they need to obtain an official diagnosis of autism. This diagnosis is essential to guide the necessary treatment and support appropriately. Children who have displayed signs of autism must undergo a series of clinical assessments, one of which is the ADOS-2, a specialized assessment tool for detecting and diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders.
In this blog, ABA Centers of Florida offers a comprehensive guide to the ADOS-2. You will find detailed information on how this assessment works, what to expect during the evaluation, and its specific characteristics. Our goal is to address your concerns and ensure you thoroughly understand ADOS-2. We want you to know that ABA Centers of Florida support individuals navigating autism and their families. For more information about our autism diagnosis and ABA therapy services, we encourage you to explore our website. We are here to assist you at every step of the journey.
What is the ADOS-2?
The ADOS-2, which stands for Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Second Edition, is an assessment that medical professionals use to evaluate individuals who exhibit characteristic signs of autism spectrum disorder. This test includes activities to assess the individual’s social skills, communication skills, and imaginative ability. The National Library of Medicine has recognized the ADOS-2 in research as the ‘gold standard’ for assessing communication skills, repetitive behaviors, and restricted interests in individuals whom clinicians suspect may have autism.
The ADOS-2 has been available since 2000 and is available in 15 languages. Dr. Catherine Lord and other colleagues designed this test to observe common behaviors and symptoms in individuals with autism. Since its launch, the ADOS-2 has been used in educational settings and by professionals in the field of autism to assess for possible developmental disorders.
How Does the ADOS-2 Autism Testing Works?
The ADOS-2 can be administered to individuals from 12 months of age through adulthood, providing testing clinicians with a wide range of information they can depend on. However, it’s important to note that this assessment is unsuitable for individuals with significant motor or sensory disabilities. In other words, individuals who are blind, deaf, or have limited mobility are typically unsuitable candidates for this test.
The ADOS-2 consists of modules carefully selected by clinicians to assess a person’s language skills, encompassing nonverbal communication and verbal expression. Thanks to these developmental modules, the ADOS-2 is highly adaptable to people of all ages, adjusting to their specific needs.
Qualified conductors of an ADOS-2 assessment must have prior training and professional backgrounds in psychology, psychiatry, pediatrics, speech therapists, or board-certified behavior analysts.
What are the Modules that Comprise the ADOS-2?
The ADOS-2 test comprises four different modules, each assessing individuals according to their age or level of functioning. These are the modules:
- Module 1: In this module, clinicians conduct the assessment in completely nonverbal settings to evaluate individuals who lack consistent verbal communication skills.
- Module 2: This module assesses young children according to their age-based skill level who possess few communication skills. Professionals use activities that involve moving around a room and interacting with objects.
- Module 3: Practitioners use this module to assess individuals fluent in verbal communication and who can play with age-appropriate toys. Activities occur at a long table, where the individual must perform the requested actions.
- Module 4: This module is for verbally fluent individuals who can play with toys beyond their age. It shares similarities with Module 3 but includes conversational elements related to everyday life.
Each module presents standardized situations in which the evaluator guides the individual. These activities are often play-based and problem-solving. For example, the clinician may propose to the child to stack blocks on top of each other to build a tower. However, the evaluator doesn’t give the child enough blocks to complete the task but indicates more blocks are available. In this situation, the professional observes, evaluates, and measures the child’s approach to the challenge. What is the child’s solution? Will they ask for more blocks in a polite manner? Will they point to them? Will they yell? Will they stop the activity? Whatever the individual’s response, it will provide valuable information for understanding their abilities.
Other components of the assessment include structured conversations and social scenarios. In these scenarios, the clinician asks the child to pretend they are at recess or a birthday party to observe and understand the child’s coping skills when facing minor obstacles.
Since the goal of this assessment is to observe the child’s performance independently, parents cannot intervene to assist their child. Some examiners prefer that parents do not attend the evaluation because they often feel a strong urge to help their child, which can sometimes distract the child.
Expectations During the ADOS-2 Autism Testing
In addition to the ADOS-2, many providers include a comprehensive evaluation with family and caregiver interviews. During the interview, the clinician gathers information about the child’s medical and developmental history, age, areas of delay, standardized measures, and specific parental concerns. Some doctors and agencies complete this evaluation in a single session.
Typically, the ADOS-2 assessment takes between 30 and 60 minutes by a professional who has no prior knowledge of the individual’s history, symptoms, or behavior. The clinician must decide which module to use with the individual, and sometimes, the examiner may change the module during the assessment because it no longer aligns with the individual’s functional capabilities. While the doctor evaluates the child, they may ask the parent to be present during the review session. In this case, parents must observe objectively and interact with the child only if the doctor requests it.
After the session, the clinician reviews the assessment with the client’s family. Frequently, the evaluator assesses and shares the scores in the same appointment. However, some providers may advise parents to schedule a follow-up appointment to review the results. This follow-up appointment is the ideal opportunity to ask questions. Finally, parents receive a comprehensive written report with recommendations within two weeks.
Can ADOS-2 Diagnose Autism on its Own?
While clinicians consider ADOS-2 the gold standard for autism testing and assessment, it’s essential to understand that this evaluation alone cannot diagnose autism. To obtain an official and reliable diagnosis, individuals must undergo a series of assessments that delve into their developmental history, with the input of parents and medical professionals. To learn about diagnosing autism, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guide.
ABA Centers of Florida and Autism Testing with ADOS-2
If you’re searching for a place for the testing and diagnosis of autism for your loved one, ABA Centers of Florida is here to assist you. As part of our comprehensive autism testing and diagnosis process, we employ the ADOS-2 assessment, which our certified professionals conduct with professionalism and integrity. Feel free to contact us at (772) 773-1975 for a free consultation, or you can complete the contact form on our website to share your concerns.