Curry Autism Spectrum Services (CASS) is located within the Sheila C. Johnson Center for Human Services. CASS includes an interdisciplinary group of clinicians and researchers who conduct comprehensive assessments of children and adults to determine the presence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Other potential issues that may be impacting an individual’s functioning are also considered.
Team members represent the fields of Speech-Language-Hearing; Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education; and Clinical and School Psychology. The assessment process may entail speech-language, behavioral support, educational testing, specialized reading testing, and psychological evaluation and observation.
The Speech-Language-Hearing assessments are tailored to meet the needs of each individual client and include evaluations of verbal and nonverbal expressive language, receptive language, and social communication using both formal assessments and clinical observations. In addition, screenings or assessments for hearing, voice, fluency, and articulation are performed to determine if any speech-language impairments co-occur with ASD.
Special Education conducts Functional Behavior Assessments to develop client-specific recommendations to address challenging behavior, including a safety plan, positive behavior support plan, and recommendations for implementing intervention. Special Education also provides visual supports to help provide a comfortable testing environment. Clients may have the option to pursue follow-up services to assist in implementing behavior support recommendations that evolve from the assessment.
Psychological evaluation may include, but is not limited to, the administration of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) as well as cognitive, general educational, and personality testing. In addition to testing, assessment clients are typically interviewed during the process. When appropriate, parents of the client are interviewed to obtain an accurate developmental history. Teachers also may be interviewed, and classroom observations may occur.
Specialized reading testing is also available, which involves an in-depth assessment investigating literacy skills to determine specific strengths and areas of need. Recommendations include, but are not limited to, reading fluency; reading comprehension and vocabulary; spelling and phonics; and writing. These assessments are geared to the child’s needs and can flex relative to the child’s particular stage of literacy development, be it pre-reader or fluent reader.
Ultimately, CASS strives to provide comprehensive evaluations for children and adults who are referred because of ASD symptoms or a prior ASD diagnosis. The interdisciplinary team works together before, throughout, and after the assessment to obtain an accurate and comprehensive clinical picture.
For those interested in pursuing assessment services through CASS, please contact the Assessment Intake Coordinator at 434-924-0800. For more information on the Sheila C. Johnson Center for Human Services, please visit the following website: http://curry.virginia.edu/community-programs/sjc/center-for-clinical-psychology-services/assessment-services