Autism Testing for Kids & Teens

Diagnostic Assessments for
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Get Started

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, that affects about 1 in 36 children in the U.S. (CDC, 2020). Autism is characterized by core symptoms including:

  • Difficulties with social communication and interaction
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Sensory issues

Autism symptoms vary significantly in each child or teen. An individual with ASD can have more severe symptoms in one area but mild symptoms in another.

Many children and teens on the spectrum also have other mental health issues or differences such as:

  • Anxiety and OCD
  • ADHD
  • Developmental delays

This variation and overlap in symptoms can make ASD difficult to identify. Our psychologists are experts in diagnosing and working with people on the spectrum. An evaluation is a key first step to understanding and managing your child or teen’s symptoms.

What are the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder?

Social Communication and Interaction Difficulties
► Using and interpreting verbal and nonverbal communication
► Starting or maintaining conversations
► Recognizing social cues or following social rules
► Making and keeping friends

Repetitive Behaviors
► Repetitive movements
► Insistence on sameness or routine
► Resistance to change
► Narrow interests or fixations

Sensory Issues
► Oversensitivity to lights, sounds, or textures
► Picky eating
► Sensory-seeking behaviors

Research shows that ASD often co-occurs with other disorders, such as anxiety and ADHD, and that there is significant symptom overlap in these and other diagnoses.

How is autism diagnosed and treated?

Autism is a behavioral diagnosis, meaning there is no blood or medical test that can identify someone as being on the spectrum. With our assessment service, we provide Therapy Lab's targeted, science-backed approach in order to offer your family diagnostic clarity, recommendations for next steps, and documentation necessary to move forward.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is often not diagnosed until after the age of two, despite symptoms appearing in early childhood. Symptoms may be masked or overlooked as typical development or mistaken for other conditions.
What are the benefits of testing for autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

Understanding autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and how its symptoms affect your child or teen can provide guidance in securing effective services to develop strengths and address challenges.

Autism affects an estimated 1 in 36 children.
Understand your child better

Why does your child do ____ ? Why is ____ extra challenging for them? Autism and its accompanying unique symptoms may be the answer.

Early intervention

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, the intervention for autism with the most research support at present, results in the greatest improvements for children 2 to 5 years old. (Of course, behavior therapy can work for people of any age!)

Determine appropriate treatment or support

Evidence-based interventions for mental health and behavioral issues differ somewhat based on diagnosis. For example, a child with autism may need more individualized Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for treatment of co-occurring anxiety than a typical child. People on the spectrum may benefit from a variety of treatments including behavior therapy, social skills group, adaptive skills training, etc.

Access accommodations at school

Having a medical diagnosis indicates to school personnel that a professional has diagnosed your child. This may mean your child is more likely to get accommodations through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or at your child’s private school.


Autism evaluation has a few costs along with the benefits, and it’s good to know about these upfront. Costs to consider include the financial expense, time and energy, and possible emotional burden for you as a parent or caregiver. Fortunately, the evaluation should not be too much work for you; you’ll need to complete some questionnaires online and answer questions during an interview with your evaluator. And for children, the assessment will seem like play.

What should I expect for my child’s autism evaluation?

Our diagnostic assessments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) consist of three to four appointments including an in-person visit to our office in downtown Los Angeles, a telehealth interview, a real-world observation, and a feedback session. We aim to schedule one appointment per week, which means you should receive results about a month after your child’s first appointment.

The order of appointments is flexible, allowing your child to begin the testing process even if your family can’t get to our office in L.A. for a few weeks.

In-Person Observation

Our Comprehensive Evaluation for ASD involves careful, detailed in-person observation of your child’s social and communication skills with their evaluator, their parents or caregivers, their teachers, and their peers.

During your child’s appointment at our office, we use a standardized test to measure their behavior in response to a variety of social prompts. For young children, parents or caregivers are asked to remain in the room and participate in the assessment. Regardless of age, the measure we use is not like a traditional test but rather play-based activities and open-ended questions.

Assessments may include:
► Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, 2nd Edition (ADOS-2)
► Social Responsiveness Scale, 2nd Edition (SRS-2)
► Adaptive Behavior Assessment System, 3rd Edition (ABAS-3)
► Behavior Assessment System for Children, 3rd edition (BASC-3)
► WASI-II Wechsler Abbreviated Scale Intelligence | 2 Ed

Our Comprehensive Assessment for ASD includes:
► Behavioral evaluation for symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ADOS)
► Brief intelligence testing (abbreviated IQ)
► Caregiver interview
► Child or teen interview
► Measure of social skills
► Measure of daily living skills
► Measure of emotional issues to screen for co-occurring problems like anxiety, depression, etc.
► Daycare or school observation and teacher interviews

Interview & Questionnaires

We will gather information from you, your child, and their teachers via interview and questionnaires to learn more about their early development, current behaviors, interests, sensory issues, anxiety or mood symptoms, sleep issues, and more.

Our Comprehensive Assessment includes a brief behavioral observation of your child at their daycare or school in the L.A. area. Daycare or school observation allows us to see your child in a more natural setting than formal testing.

Together with your child’s daycare or school, we will schedule an appropriate time to visit, during which we can observe a variety of activities to assess your child’s social-communication skills with peers and their participation in structured and unstructured activities. We advise that you and your child’s teacher refrain from communicating to your child and their peers that the observation is taking place to maintain privacy and to allow for an unbiased sample of your child’s behavior.

If daycare or school observation is not possible, we may ask for other observation opportunities.


Your last appointment of the assessment process is the feedback session, during which we review results, including any diagnoses that are warranted, and discuss next steps.  

Through teacher interviews and questionnaires and our daycare or school observation, we will have gained insight into whether support or formal accommodations may be appropriate for your child in their learning environment. We can offer guidance on initiating the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan process should you decide to pursue these services. Further, the detailed results in our reports and the recommendations we provide can aid in the school’s assessment and plan development.

If we think you should consider medication management for your child, we will refer your family to appropriate medical providers who can help.

Detailed Report

A few weeks after your feedback session, we will provide a detailed report that includes assessment results, diagnoses, and recommendations. The recommendations we provide can help guide you if your child receives a diagnosis. If your child meets the diagnostic criteria for autism, the report will include a medical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder with current level of support needed.

You may wish to share your child’s report with other medical or behavioral health professionals, such as psychologists or psychotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and physical therapists. Families have used the report and accompanying medical diagnosis to qualify for treatments such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and to obtain special education services.


Therapy Lab Kids provides autism assessments for kids and teenagers, starting at $3,500. We offer a range of assessments, from basic to comprehensive, that are tailored to meet your child's individual needs. For more information on pricing, contact us.

Get started

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if my child doesn't receive an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis?

Regardless of whether your child or teen is given a diagnosis of ASD, we are here to offer support and guidance. For most other mental health concerns, such as anxiety or depression, we are able to assess and diagnose these through our Comprehensive Assessment for ASD.  If we believe that Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity (ADHD) might be a more appropriate (or additional) diagnosis for your child, we can provide clarity through testing for a supplemental fee. And if we think further neuropsychological testing is needed (e.g., for a suspected learning or intellectual disability), we can provide referrals for supplemental testing and collaborate with other providers.

Should you seek treatment related to other mental health concerns for your child or teen, we offer evidence-based therapy in person and via telehealth. You can learn more about our therapy plans here.

Why should I choose an autism-specific evaluation vs. neuropsychological or psycho-educational testing?

There are a number of benefits of choosing ASD-specific evaluation over other types of testing:
► More cost-effective
► Fewer appointments or hours of testing
► Greater focus on autism-specific symptoms
► Resources and recommendations specific to ASD

Our evaluators have extensive experience working with people on the spectrum of all ages and presentations. We have expertise in identifying ASD and co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and ADHD. Because there is significant symptom overlap in ASD and other disorders, this expertise is critical for accurate diagnosis and subsequent treatment recommendations.

Additionally, neurodiversity among girls, women, and people of color has frequently been overlooked or misdiagnosed. We feel confident in our ability to identify ASD symptoms in these populations, enabling proper diagnosis and appropriate subsequent intervention.

There is no lab test or medical diagnostic that can identify ASD. Research supports reliable diagnosis as early as 18 months of age; we have expertise in identifying very early signs of ASD, leading to earlier treatment and better social-communication outcomes. Additionally, our psychologists are skilled in identifying children and teens with mild symptoms of ASD, whose deficits may be missed due to compensatory behaviors (i.e., “masking”). For some children and teens, weaknesses in communication and social skills may only become noticeable as social demands increase, starting in middle school and beyond. Professionals without training and experience working with neurodiverse populations may miss mild, subtle, or atypical symptoms. Less targeted assessment may not provide detailed investigation necessary to identify subtler, but still interfering and distressing, symptoms of autism.

What should I do if I have early concerns about Autism for my very young child?

► Ask your pediatrician if they have concerns. Do they notice any early signs or “red flags”?

► Talk to your child’s teachers. They spend many hours a day with kids and may notice social, communication, or behavior differences that could be noteworthy.

► Observe your child and compare them with peers (at the park, birthday parties, daycare). Is your child keeping up socially? Do you notice any unusual behaviors?

► Trust your gut. Caregiver intuition is real, and you know your child best. We know that early treatment works best, so if you have any questions, it’s worth getting an expert opinion as soon as you can.

What is the difference between Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Asperger's Syndrome, and being "on the spectrum"?

Technically in today’s clinical practice, there is not much of a difference between these terms. In 2013, the criteria used to diagnose autism changed. Before 2013, there were several different disorders under the same diagnostic “umbrella” –  Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome/Asperger’s, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). Research suggested that these labels reflected a common set of symptoms of varying quality or severity rather than distinct conditions. As a result, these diagnoses were all combined into Autism Spectrum Disorder. This term is shortened to ASD and/or Autism (capitalized or lowercase “a”), and people diagnosed with ASD may be referred to as being “on the spectrum.” People with the previous diagnoses listed above generally fit the criteria for the newer diagnosis of ASD. Some individuals who meet the criteria for ASD continue to self-identify as having asperger’s syndrome, as they feel the previous criteria is more representative of their characteristics.Autism or ASD is a social communication disorder at its core but affects other areas of functioning as well. Current diagnostic criteria separates symptoms of ASD into two major domains: Social Communication and Restricted Interests/Repetitive Behaviors.

► The Social Communication domain includes challenges in interacting with others in a back-and-forth way, differences in using and understanding nonverbal behavior like eye contact or gestures, and trouble making and maintaining relationships.
► The Restricted Interests/Repetitive Behaviors domain includes repetitive movements and speech, inflexibility, fixated or intense interests, and sensory issues.

To meet criteria, a person must have symptoms in each area that interfere with their daily living.  When an ASD diagnosis is assigned, the clinician will provide “severity” levels for each of these domains, which signifies how much support the person may need to manage interfering symptoms in those areas. (For the full diagnostic criteria, please refer to the CDC website.)

Have more questions? Contact us.