I Think My Child Has Autism: A Guide for Parents – Part 2

Part 2 – How To Get an Autism Diagnosis

If you’ve seen early signs of autism in your child, the next step is to determine if they really do have autism. The developmental and behavioral disorder affects children in many different ways, so screening and testing can take many forms and involve more than one doctor or specialist. Unfortunately, there’s no single medical test to diagnosis autism.

The process of getting an autism diagnosis typically starts with a broad developmental and behavioral screening by your primary healthcare provider.

  • Regular well-child visits typically include screenings at 9, 18, and 30 months of age at the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP).
  • The AAP also recommends specific autism screening at the ages of 18 and 24 months.
  • If you’re not sure your child has been screened, request a screening from your healthcare provider as soon as you see signs of autism.
  • You can complete this online autism screener and take the results to your healthcare provider to discuss your concerns.
  • Typically, screenings for autism will not provide you with a diagnosis. They merely help primary healthcare providers better understand whether or not a child is on the right track developmentally.
  • However, if your primary healthcare provider has the right training, they may use the results from the screening to make a diagnosis right then and there.

If areas of concern are found during a screening, you’ll need to get an in-depth developmental evaluation of your child.  

  • Children are usually at least a year old before they can be evaluated with any level of accuracy.
  • Developmental evaluations are done by trained specialists, including developmental pediatricians, child psychologists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, pediatric neurologists, psychiatrists, and others. Make sure your specialist(s) have experience with autism in children. Not all of them do.
  • Depending on your child’s individual needs as determined by the screening, you may need one or more evaluations, covering different areas of concern and involving different specialists.
  • Here’s a look at the different types of evaluations that can be used to make an autism diagnosis in a child:
    • Hearing screenings, if your child has difficulty communicating
    • Developmental and cognitive testing to determine an approximate developmental level of your child compared to peers of the same age (under 6)
    • Speech and language assessments, where speech involves the mechanics of talking while language includes how much your child understands and expresses themselves using words
    • Parent and/or caregiver interviews and questionnaires to learn important information about your child’s development and medical history 
    • Adaptive functioning evaluations to assess skills that help determine your child’s independence
    • Assessment of fine (finger movement) and gross (large muscle movements) motor skills
    • Evaluation of sensory sensitivities to things that are seen, heard, touched, smelled, and tasted
    • Executive functioning assessments to evaluate your child’s problem-solving, goal-directed, and purposeful skills
  • To complement these autism evaluations, there are also standardized tests that can be administered by trained professionals that often help to speed up the diagnostic process for families, such as the ADOS-2 (Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale).


Once the evaluations are completed and analyzed, you’ll be given a medical diagnosis that highlights your child’s strengths and challenges.

The diagnosis is your key to opening up early intervention autism treatment that ensures your child has the best opportunity to reach their full potential and thrive. You can learn more about why early intervention for autism is so important in Part 3 of this special guide for parents, coming next week!

Until then, our autism and ABA therapy experts are ready to help with any questions you have about testing and treatment. You can email us at buddy@behaviorexchange or call our main number at 972.312.8733. We hope to hear from you soon!





Ashvina attended University of Bombay and graduated with a Bachelors of Commerce. She got her Montessori Diploma in 1985 and taught ever since. Ashvina came to TBE in January of 2016 as Admin Assistant. During the years she got the opportunity to learn and work in different departments such as HR, Finance, Office Manager and Executive Assistant. Last summer TBE bought billing in house and her current focus area is Revenue Cycle Management. She is detail oriented and enjoys working with people. Ashvina volunteers to deliver meals to seniors and local shelters on the weekend. She loves to spend time with her family and grandkids. Ashvina loves her job because she enjoys hearing different points of view, and she feels her contributions help fuel the direction of our company.

Working with children comes naturally to Angela. Her mom was a special education teacher for 30 years and often had Angela join her for Take Your Child to Work Day. And in high school, Angela spent every summer as the nanny for a little boy with an autism spectrum disorder. It was this experience where her passion for working with children with autism started to blossom.

From there, she went on to graduate from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences. She learned about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in a non-normative development class and from that moment knew that ABA would be her life’s work.

Angela moved to the DFW area shortly after and began working at The Behavior Exchange as a therapist. She worked on her Master’s in Behavior Analysis at the same time. A year after graduating, she earned certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Now, as a Clinical Director at The Behavior Exchange, she brings a life-long passion to her work, holding a special place in her heart for children with limited language skills and working closely with families to develop healthy sleep habits.

Danielle’s passion for working with families is deeply personal and from the heart. Her younger brother has an autism spectrum disorder, and through their journey as a family, she found her purpose in life as an advocate for individuals with special needs.

After graduating from the University of North Texas with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, Danielle began volunteering at The Behavior Exchange. She saw passionate therapists, meaningful change for clients, and families with hope for the future. After a summer of volunteering, she officially joined the team as Director of Admissions and found her home with The Behavior Exchange family.

With her extensive experience working as a client advocate with insurance providers, Danielle perseveres to help individuals of all ages and abilities receive the services they need to reach their full potential. She feels truly honored by each and every family who entrusts The Behavior Exchange to be part of their journey and is committed to the organization’s core values, mission, and goal of being a beacon of hope for the community.

Adam has always had a passion for helping individuals of all ages thrive and reach their full potential. He’s also an enthusiastic musician, songwriter, leader, and devoted family man, who has been helping children and team members grow with The Behavior Exchange since 2010.

Prior to joining the team at The Behavior Exchange, Adam was a mortgage loan consultant and grad student, pursuing his master’s degree in Education at the University of North Texas. He graduated in 2013 and also earned a graduate academic certificate in Autism Intervention. The following year, after years as a Behavior Therapist and seeing first-hand the power of ABA and the meaningful impact it can have on children and their families, Adam became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. He then commenced from the Stagen Leadership Academy after completing the Integral Leadership Program (ILP), a 52-week practice-based program designed to develop executives serious about transforming themselves, their teams, and their organizations.

Adam is truly grateful to be a part of a dynamic, inspiring and compassionate team, and he’s dedicated to bettering the lives of all children and their families through the delivery of the highest quality of ABA services, while supporting the amazing team at The Behavior Exchange.

Soraya is from South Africa and moved to Texas in 1996. She graduated from The University of Texas and pursued a career, at that time, in Education. Soraya taught at a Montessori school for a few years and then took on a leadership role.

During her time in the education system, Soraya realized her passion was to assist children with special needs. So she joined The Behavior Exchange as a therapist, transitioned into a supervisory role in 2017, and a year and a half later, was promoted to Clinical Operations Manager.

She quickly learned the ins and outs of ABA operations and scheduling and successfully collaborates across departments to ensure The Behavior Exchange continues to provide quality services to clients and their families. She’s thankful to be part of such an amazing organization and excited to see what the future holds.

You could say Walter’s career started when he spent hours as a young child drawing superheroes and coloring maps. This passion, along with extraordinary swimming skills, landed him a full swimming scholarship at Texas Christian University, where he graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Graphics.

During the next 13 years, his design and art direction skills, conceptual-thinking abilities, and marketing-savvy know-how were honed at a few prestigious advertising and marketing agencies around the Dallas area. In the mid 2000s, he helped his wife Tammy Cline-Soza (founder and CEO of The Behavior Exchange) create a unique and concise brand for her new business. From logos and websites to uniforms, brand voice and visuals, Walter has been the main creative force for all things The Behavior Exchange.

Aside from giving birth to The Behavior Exchange brand, Walter is helping Tammy raise two amazing, beautiful children, River and Sierra. In his spare time (the two minutes he’s got per week), you can find Walter illustrating iconic landmarks of Dallas and Texas or looking around for this next open-water swim. Once he gets back in shape.

After 20 years of building The Behavior Exchange, literally from the ground up,
Tammy couldn’t be more proud of the team, culture, and organization that it has become.

As a family helping families, The Behavior Exchanges looks for opportunities that will make the biggest impact and produce life-changing outcomes – for clients, families, and even for team members. Tammy believes that if a team, a family, a community takes care of each other, the possibilities are endless and the relationships built along the way can make life more enriching and challenges easier to navigate. You could say her goal has been to build a kind of utopia full of support, love, and expertise that brings the best services possible to the community and ensures more families have access to those services.

Tammy and her family have dedicated their lives to the mission of The Behavior Exchange and continue to grow, learn, cultivate, challenge, support, and create better models for success. To that end, she is committed to her own leadership development and actively participates in advanced training, mentoring, and deep self-exploration on how to live out her purpose to love and support her family and help others reach their full potential. She takes her position very seriously and tries to serve as a channel for what the universe wants to come to fruition.

She also loves travel, gardening, being creative, MUSIC!, tennis, yoga, meditation, journaling, reading, being in nature, adventures, and more than anything, spending time with her husband Walter and their two beautiful children, River and Sierra.