Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex disorder of brain development that results in impairment of social communication.  Individuals with ASD also present with restricted and/or repetitive patterns of behaviour.  These behavioural challenges often present very differently across individuals, and so assessment and diagnosis can be challenging.  In addition, individuals with ASD often demonstrate variable cognitive abilities (i.e., very strong to under-developed) and additional challenges with motor skills, attention and concentration, self-help skills, and mental health.

Individuals with ASD often develop atypical patterns of speech and language: they may be delayed in their attainment of early speech milestones (i.e.,  first words and first sentences) or they may not use speech in a typical fashion (e.g., to communicate needs and wants).  Importantly, they often do not use their speech in an interactive social manner, which contributes to their difficulties with social interaction.  Social challenges experienced by individuals with ASD may be demonstrated by a lack of eye contact, lack of imitation of others’ behaviours, lack of sharing of interest in objects or activities with others, or lack of peer friendships, among many other examples.  Behaviourally, individuals with ASD may display repetitive hand, finger, or other bodily mannerisms.  Alternatively, they may strongly prefer fixed routines or sequences of behaviour.  If either of these behaviours are interfered with, the person with ASD may experience distress and anxiety.

Assessment for ASD is a complex process and typically entails evaluation of a number of domains of functioning.  Best practice approaches to ASD assessment also indicate the involvement of individuals from multiple professional disciplines (i.e., psychology, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, physician) to best understand the individual’s development, skills, and areas of challenge.

At Inspire, we endeavor to adhere to strong clinical practices regarding the psychological assessment of ASD.  Our process typically includes an evaluation of an individual’s cognitive ability, adaptive (self-help) skills, mental health (i.e., anxiety and/or depression), as well as ASD-related symptoms through the use of the ADOS-2 and ADI-R (highly specialized measures used to determine the presence of specific symptoms and patterns of behaviour.  For school-aged children, an evaluation of their academic achievement is also often beneficial as the information can be very useful to schools in understanding the child’s needs and planning for their academic future.

For more information about ASD assessment or to speak with our team about undertaking an assessment, please email us at