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autism diagnostic clinic services

The autism diagnostic clinic provides evaluations for children ages 18 months through six years old. During these evaluations, our team spends a great deal of time observing and getting to know your child in order to make an accurate assessment.

getting started

The first step is for your child’s primary care physician to refer your child to the autism diagnostic clinic. After we receive this referral, our team will ask you to complete an online questionnaire so that we can better understand your child’s needs.

Once we receive your completed questionnaire, we will ask the Dayton Children’s scheduling department to call you to set up an appointment for our “First Steps” screening. Our goal is to schedule that appointment as quickly as possible and see your child within 10 days of receiving your completed questionnaire.

Depending on what happens during First Steps, we may schedule a comprehensive team evaluation for your child, which involves more intensive tests to confirm a diagnosis of autism. Appointments in the autism diagnostic clinic can last over an hour so please bring snacks and drinks that your child may want.

Learn more about the First Steps evaluation and comprehensive team evaluation below.

First Steps evaluation

First Steps is an initial screening for autism. A nurse practitioner sees children ages three and under, and a psychologist sees children ages four through six years old. These evaluators have special training and expertise in autism diagnosis. At the end of this evaluation, the evaluator will share her conclusions with you and talk about next steps.

We find that about half of the children who are seen in First Steps do not have autism. Instead, they may have another condition, such as global developmental delays, language delays, a learning disability, anxiety or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Dayton Children’s offers extensive services for children who may have something other than autism.

If the evaluator believes your child may have autism, we will schedule an appointment for a comprehensive team evaluation. Our goal is for this evaluation to take place within a month of the First Steps appointment. In the meantime, the evaluator will recommend helpful community resources so that you can begin finding support and services for your child.

comprehensive team evaluation

This evaluation is a combined appointment with a developmental pediatrician and a psychologist. The goal is to confirm a diagnosis of autism and decide what therapies and services would be most helpful for your child. During this two-hour appointment, our team will observe your child at play and do activities that evaluate academic and cognitive abilities. They will ask you about your impressions and concerns as well.

At the end of this appointment, the physicians are almost always able to make a definitive diagnosis. In rare situations, they may not be able to confirm whether a child has autism—this is more likely when the child is very young. In that case, they may ask you to bring your child back in three to six months for another evaluation.

contact us

For more information about the autism diagnostic clinic at Dayton Children’s, please call 937-641-4000. Appointments are available with a physician referral.