high functioning autism assessment

Quirky Kids

Your child was reciting the alphabet before the age of two, could count to 100 not long after that, and he instantly notices when a new picture is added to the entry way or when you wear your hair differently. Yet, she is painfully awkward when interacting with same age peers – often preferring solitary activities over group play.  He can tell you the names and key characteristics of every dinosaur that roamed the earth, but doesn’t remember the neighbor child’s name and doesn’t particularly care.

Gifted or Autistic? Or Is It Both?

If your child seems bright, learns new information quickly, yet shows very restricted interests and/or is often described as “very quirky,” then you may be wondering about this very question. Perhaps your physician or a teacher has recommended that your child be assessed for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Sometimes, these traits are signals of High Functioning Autism (“HFA” – often still referred to as Asperger’s Disorder). Other times, these simply reflect some of the intensities (or overexcitabilities) that are common among gifted children.

The reality is that there are many overlapping qualities of giftedness and High Functioning Autism. Unfortunately, many healthcare professionals do not understand key differences between the two and this can result in misdiagnosis. In addition, the symptoms of HFA can mask giftedness, while giftedness can mask autism. Sometimes, giftedness and HFA occur together. Teasing out the differences is tricky business, and we’re here to help!

Asperger's assessment

Similarities and Differences Between Classic Autism and HFA

The majority of people with Autism fall on the low end of cognitive functioning, with intellectual abilities below 70 on IQ tests, where 100 is considered average (50th percentile). People with HFA (Asperger’s) have intellectual abilities that range from average to superior or gifted. Another key difference is that children with classic ASD have early language delays, while those with HFA do not. In both classic autism and Asperger’s, children have difficulties with social interactions, can have repetitive behaviors (such as hand flapping), and severely restricted interests.

High Functioning Autism Assessment

PEAK Exceptional Services in Northglenn offers expert comprehensive autism assessment services. specifically for High Functioning Autism. Our providers specialize in assessing and treating gifted and twice-exceptional students, and exploring the subtle differences and similarities between Asperger’s and possible giftedness are an integral part of our testing services.

Every HFA assessment at PEAK begins with a comprehensive parent interview. We gather detailed developmental, medical, social, and educational background information through questionnaires and the interview process. This helps us to determine the best course of action for an assessment of your child. Our goal is to only provide the testing services that are absolutely necessary to answer your questions about your child.

Comprehensive Assessment Includes:

  • Cognitive (IQ) testing
  • Formal screening measures and observation of autism symptoms
  • Academic achievement testing
  • Standardized behavioral checklists
  • Social, emotional, and behavioral assessments
  • Input from caregivers and teachers

Details on the HFA Testing Process

If your child has not had a formal cognitive assessment completed within the past year, the assessment process will include an IQ test. This helps to ensure that we have a thorough and accurate understanding of your child’s abilities, strengths, and challenges. We use the Wechsler IQ tests (WPPSI-IV, WISC-V, or WAIS-IV – depending on your child’s age), which are considered the “gold standard” of intellectual abilities tests.

We use a variety of interview and screening measures to explore the possible presence of autism spectrum disorders. Many of these situations are complex and it is important to look at the big picture, examining strengths, challenges, and various factors that could be contributing to a child’s symptoms.

Other testing instruments will be administered, based on each individual situation. Our providers will discuss the process with you each step of the way. Once all testing has been completed, we get to work on scoring and interpreting the assessments. A few weeks later, we meet with you to discuss the results and recommendations for a treatment plan, including possible school accommodations.

If You’re Ready To Get Started

Do one of these three things:

  • Call us at 720-377-3250, ext. 1 to schedule an appointment for a Parent Interview to get started.
  • Click through to our online scheduling system and schedule an “Assessment Intake.” One of our staff will follow up to get more information.
  • Send us an email and we’ll get back to you within 48 hours with information on scheduling.

Still Have Questions?

Dr. Terri Lucero, the Clinical Director at PEAK, is happy to speak with you to ensure that all of your questions are answered.

  • Call Dr. Lucero at 720-377-3250, ext. 2 to discuss your questions about the assessment process.
  • Send Dr. Lucero an email with your questions, or with a request to be contacted, and she’ll get back to you within 24 hours.