You may have noticed some indicators in your child’s behaviour suggesting they could be on the Autism Syndrome Spectrum.
You ask about having your child assessed, which is free through the BC Autism Assessment Network (BCAAN). You discover that if you put your child’s name on the wait list immediately, you will have to wait approximately sixteen months before your child is assessed.
Michele Shilvock, a behaviour analyst (BA) with a master’s degree in education advises that the sooner you can get your child on a wait list the better.
It is not only the advantages that can be provided once funding is in place, but also the range of funding which makes an early application desirable.
Government funding varies according to age, with the funding for children under six established at $22 000 per year. But for children over six the annual funding is only $6000.
Therefore, in order to get the greatest benefit from available services in anticipation of your child attending school, your preschool child needs to be in the system, awaiting assessment as early as possible.
As Shilvock pointed out in a recent online seminar sponsored by the BC Autism Society, You can always take yourself off the list if you find that you signed up in error.
The free assessment is a one-hour, one-time visit!
This is very different from a private, client paid assessment[i] which consists of several interviews with different professionals, at a total cost of between $1500 and $2500.
The positive aspect of the waiting period for the free assessment is that it can be a fruitful time for gathering information that will help ensure that your child is accurately and thoroughly assessed.
Shilvock is clear that you will need to clearly and concisely express and confirm your child’s behaviour in a very short period of time.
The brief glimpse that you provide of your child during the free assessment can be enhanced by videos of their behaviour under a variety of physical and emotional conditions, journals logging interactive activities or possibly exhibiting a lack of emotional control, stimming or unusual repetition in play or conversation.
If possible, enlist the help of others, such as daycare workers, preschool workers, coaches, or close relatives to record your child’s behaviours as well.
Above all, Shilvock says, be honest and realistic. Sugar coating your child’s behaviours at this crucial juncture could have devastating long-term consequences.
[i] Please see the resource page for B.C. professionals available for private assessment processes.