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Devereux's Autism Assessment Center provides timely answers and support for families

“The worst part for parents before a diagnosis is the waiting. You know something is happening with your child, but you don’t know how to help until an official diagnosis is given.”
Amy Kelly, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, director of family and community services 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that one in 68 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder, a 30 percent increase from two years ago. Unfortunately, facilities offering autism diagnostic services are few and far between; families can wait anywhere from 18 months to two years to access these services.  

Access to early diagnosis and intervention

The Devereux Autism Assessment Center understands the importance of early and accurate diagnosis. Opened in 2015 in West Chester, Pa., the center provides families with swift and comprehensive diagnostic autism assessment services for individuals of all ages – from early childhood through adulthood.  

“As a national leader for the provision of evidence-based autism treatment and education services, Devereux knows early intervention is critical,” said Devereux Pennsylvania Children’s Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities Services (CIDDS) Clinical Director Carol Anne McNellis, Psy.D. BCBA. “Our Autism Assessment Center staff can schedule family appointments within two to four weeks, which helps families identify and implement appropriate services and treatment – so they can move forward.” 

About our Autism Assessment Center 

As a smaller, “boutique” autism diagnostic center, Devereux’s licensed professionals have extensive training and experience delivering evidence-based assessments and interventions.  

“But equally important is the caring and support we provide to families as they receive the answers they need for prompt access to the right services to help loved one build skills and achieve greater independence,” said Dr. McNellis. Additional benefits include:

  • A nationally recognized autism assessment/treatment expertise
  • Attention and action to all referral concerns
  • Immediate feedback on day of assessment
  • Linkage to appropriate treatment services; support from other families with children with autism

“With same-day feedback – followed by a detailed evaluation report with assessment information, diagnosis and recommendations – families can consult with Devereux to receive guidance on the best, local services available to support a child and his/her family, including school services, therapies and interventions,” explained Kelly. “But the greatest advantage is that families avoid the 12-18 month wait for an evaluation. Having lived through this more than 10 years ago – with my daughter Annie – I know how important it is to get access to services quickly.” 

What happens during an assessment?

The screening and intake process is completed by licensed psychologists who determine each individual’s assessment needs. The family is then scheduled for an assessment – either a half-day or full day – depending on the complexity of the individual’s referral concerns.  

On the day of the assessment:

  • The individual participates in the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale – second edition (ADOS-2), considered the gold standard of autism assessment. Additional assessments, such as the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R), adaptive behavior assessments, cognitive assessments, and social-emotional assessments may be administered to enhance the accuracy of any diagnosis. ADOS-2 administrations are videotaped and additional observers view the session through a two-way mirror.
  • Under the supervision of a licensed doctoral level psychologist, the assessment is completed by master’s level or doctoral level clinicians trained on the ADOS-2.
  • For complex cases, Devereux may bring in other professionals, such as speech and language therapists and psychiatrists for consultation or direct assessment. The center works closely with the Devereux Neuropsychological Assessment Center and can make referrals for additional assessments, if necessary.
  • Parents are provided with preliminary feedback.

“Because an assessment can take several hours, the center features a family room equipped with a stocked kitchenette, a play area and a computer with Internet access,” said Kelly. “We also offer a private parking spot and bathroom, a changing table for infants, and toys for any siblings who might be there with their parents.” 

   After the assessment:

  • A comprehensive report is completed with diagnostic conclusions and recommendations.
  • The family is invited to meet with Devereux staff who explain the results and answer questions.
  • If a diagnosis of autism is made, the center will provide: 1) information about appropriate services in the family’s geographic area; 2) resources including Autism Speaks’ “100-Day Kit” and connections to parents of other children with autism.

Click here to learn more about our Autism Assessment Center. To schedule an appointment, or for more information, contact: Carol Anne McNellis at (267) 788-6892 or via email: cmcnelli@devereux.org.  

About Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health:

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is one of the largest nonprofit behavioral healthcare organizations in the country. Founded in 1912 by special education pioneer Helena Devereux, we serve as a national partner for individuals, families, schools and communities, serving many of the most vulnerable members of our society in areas of autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, specialty mental health, and child welfare. To learn more, visit www.devereuxpa.org.

  

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