Test and Diagnostic Services for Autism

The Stanford Children's Health Autism Center at Packard Children’s Hospital offers two diagnostic clinics if you:

  • Suspect your child might have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Have been referred for a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation to rule out ASD

A diagnostic evaluation can be initiated by parents, or through a referral from a physician. We will determine if your insurance covers the evaluation before an appointment is scheduled.

Parents can call either clinic to schedule an appointment. The assessment process is very similar at the two clinics, so it is not necessary to call both.

The Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Consultation Program assesses and diagnoses autism spectrum disorders in young children under the age of 6. Our multidisciplinary diagnostic team consists of developmental-behavioral pediatricians, psychologists and speech-language pathologists. Social workers and dieticians join our team as needed. We assure that a medical evaluation is included in the diagnostic process.

Because young children have limited attention and endurance, the evaluations are generally conducted during a morning appointment.

The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic assesses children ages 3 and up, including children over the age of 6. We also offer second opinions and re-evaluations for children already diagnosed. Our multidisciplinary team consists of a child psychiatrist and child psychologist.

Because older children require more extensive testing and observation, the evaluation generally involves two days for children over the age of 6.

Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation

Both diagnostic clinics follow the same general guidelines for the diagnosis of autism and autism spectrum disorders.  These guidelines come from national practice parameters that were set by leading autism specialists, and endorsed by the California Department of Developmental Services 1-3.

A team of clinicians will see you and your child at the diagnostic evaluation. The evaluation process includes:

  • A detailed developmental history from parents or caregivers
  • Gathering information about your family, your family history of medical and developmental disorders, and your child's social environment
  • Evaluation:
    • Developmental or cognitive assessments of  your child’s thinking, learning and problem solving skills
    • Assessment of your child’s language abilities
    • Evaluation of your child’s social development through observations, interactions and play

A parent feedback session is held after your child’s diagnostic evaluation. Our team discusses with you our diagnostic impressions and treatment recommendations. The team assists you in finding  community-based treatment services as appropriate to your child’s and family’s needs.

1.National Research Council (2001). Educating children with autism. Committee on educational interventions for children with autism. C Lord and JP McGee, eds. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

2.Filipek PA, Accardo PJ, Baranek GT, Cook EH, Dawson G, Gordon B, et al. (1999). The screening and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29, 439-484.

3.California Department of Developmental Services (2002) (PDF). Autistic spectrum disorders: Best practice guidelines for screening, diagnosis and assessment.