Evaluation at Stanford for high-functioning autism?

We have wondered for a long time whether we need extra help for my 7-year-old, because (on top of many delightful qualities) he has really challenged us with things like inflexibility (getting obsessed with a certain thing he thinks must happen NOW), extreme emotional upsets, sensory seeking around touch, and low responsiveness to people’s emotional cues. He has a terribly hard time stopping what he’s doing when people get annoyed or upset, though he can be very thoughtful about others when it doesn’t depend on responding to their feelings “in the moment.”

He goes to a very small school, and things are going well there—he is highly verbal and quick academically, and after a slow start socially, he now plays happily there. At home though, these issues can be pretty extreme and draining to manage. 

We decided to pursue an evaluation for high-function autism, in hopes of getting insights that help us to cope better and give him the best support we can. We are on the waiting list for an evaluation at Stanford Developmental Pediatrics, and I wanted to ask—have people had good experiences with evaluation there? Did the process help you understand your child better? 

I am hoping for understanding that would help us nurture skills that can be nurtured, develop alternative strategies as needed, and build on his strengths, so that one way or another he builds the skills he needs to navigate life’s difficulties and build healthy relationships with others. 

Thanks in advance for anything you can share! 

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I  didn't use Stanford.  My family has Kaiser.  My son was evaluated when he was 5 and now at 9 he is even more high functioning than he was back then.   It's very useful to know and if he does have Autism they can refer you to ABA therapy which will help with management of the behaviors at home.   Good luck! 

My son is 9 years old and has high functioning autism and sensory processing disorder (which has lessened in recent years). I can’t speak on Stanford’s evaluation since I did his at Sutter. However, the best thing that has worked for my son is his social skills class. I would suggest looking into it while you wait for the evaluation. Although, some social skills classes require an autism or adhd diagnosis for it to be covered by insurance. You could probably pay out of pocket if you’re able. My son has gone to Seven Bridges Therapy in Oakland since age 4 and I feel like he’s learned the most from it out of all his therapies. Occupational therapy helped with his sensory issues and taught him how to learn what his body needs and how to manage them. That also usually needs a diagnosis, but definitely helped.

I hope Stanford is getting better (and that parents who've had good luck there can share an update), but as recently as eight years ago I found them not quite up to speed in recognizing HFA (Asperger's). They tended to miss it or misdiagnose. (My experience is both as a mother and psychologist.) I'd like to recommend a helpful book for parents (and school staff): Beyond Rain Man: What One Psychologist Learned Raising a Son on the Autism Spectrum by Anne Ross. Easy to order through IndieBound.org (and your local indie bookstore). 

I just want to say, well done, Mom! Keep advocating, learning, and growing! I have two children with ASD - aged 9 and 13, and it has been quite a journey! While it presents many challenges, there are also numerous rewards. One of the most fulfilling aspects is that both of our children are aware of their diagnoses. We frequently discuss the struggles and strengths associated with ASD.

It is something they take pride in! My advice would be to continue educating yourself about ASD so that you can best support and accommodate your child's needs. Additionally, keep an open dialogue with your child about it. This not only helps them understand themselves better but also navigate their world more effectively. Best wishes to you and your child.