Getting an autism assessment in BC (part 2)
If you haven't read my first post yet which gives you an overall picture, click here.
Today we're going to talk about other parts of the assessment like how do I get the assessment funded and what does the speech-language assessment look like?!
Before I even get to this, I really want to reiterate that you can get an autism assessment through public services in BC via Sunny Hill Health Centre. Check out their webpage here.
It is a very personal decision whether or not you want to wait for a public assessment, free of charge, or go for a private assessment. This does not replace any professional advice from doctors/SLPs/psychologists that you are seeing. You can have a discussion with them to see what would work best for your child's needs.
The following is just for educational purposes!
In the last year, Variety have indicated that they will be funding private autism assessments in BC. In order to apply for the funding, the family income needs to be below $85000. You can read more about it here. Families can now request for a grant application, complete it, then receive funding for the assessment. To my knowledge, it's quite the application. You'll need your CRA tax documents, a letter of support from a professional, quotes from service providers, etc. Since there is a process, start early!
Okay, now that we got that covered, let's talk about the speech-language assessment. I am going to preface this with the fact that every assessment is going to look different and every SLP will have a different toolbox with fun ways of assessing children. What the assessment looks like will vary between every SLP AND it depends on where your child is at.
These are some areas that your SLP may assess depending on where your child is at:
Prelinguistic skills - These are the skills that come before kids even use their first words AND this is so important because this is where therapy may start. Some early skills that we look at include joint attention (is your child able to pay attention to the same thing as you), gestures, eye-contact, taking turns, paying attention to people.
Social Communication - This is probably the most important aspect that we look at. We examine HOW children communicate. It's great if they have words, but HOW are they using it to communicate with you? Is your child labelling items or are they able to use that word to communicate their wants and needs? Social communication is really, really broad. It also includes communicating for different reasons, combining different modes of communication (e.g., pointing, eye-contact AND words), etc. A lot of parents have mentioned to me that their children have words, but the child does not use the word to communicate with their parents intentionally. That IS social communication. HOW is your child communicating? These are the questions we want to address when we assess your child.
Expressive Language/Receptive Language - This is typically what everyone is looking for! This includes using language or words to communicate and what they are able to understand. If children are not yet using words, we look at skills such as gestures, vocalizations, babbling, crying, etc.
Play Skills - One key skill that we look for is pretend play! This type of play occurs when your child isn't playing with toys the way they are "supposed to", but they start pretending! Some common examples include pouring from a teacup or pretending that a banana is a phone. We look into play skills extensively because play skills are highly correlated with language skills. In therapy, we tend to work on both at the same time because they really facilitate the development of each other.
Depending on where your child is at, we may include formal or informal assessments!
A complete speech-language assessment for an autism in BC includes a formal speech-language report. It's super important that you read this document in detail because it will include some important recommendations from your SLP! Depending on where you are at, this may include what type of service your child would benefit from, maybe even some strategies that you can start practicing to help support your child's communication development.
Are you looking for a speech-language assessment as part of a multidisciplinary assessment for autism? Feel free to get in touch! We are now providing assessments in the comfort of your own home.