Autism Support at Kaiser

Parent Q&A

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  • Assessment for autism for 6YO at Kaiser

    (3 replies)

    Hello, I'm looking to get an assessment through Kaiser for our 6 yr old son who we suspect may be on the spectrum. He does not go to a public school, so we don't have an IEP, but the school counselor where he goes strongly suggested he be evaluated. We're Kaiser members, and I've not heard great things about getting an assessment through Kaiser, so I'm checking here to see if any other parents have had success in getting your child assessed/finding a child psychologist who knows about ASD? With Kaiser, you have to have your child's pediatrician refer you to psychiatry first, who, I guess must find enough reasonable cause to then refer you on to a neuropsychologist for a true ASD assessment. We have gotten the initial referral to psychiatry, but I'd really rather not go in blind if there is a good doctor to request a visit with. We live in Richmond, but I am happy to travel to Oakland or wherever to see a good, knowledgeable psychiatrist/psychologist. If our son is on the spectrum, we suspect he is pretty high-functioning, which makes finding a truly knowledgeable practitioner so important, as he is very bright and presents well, but definitely has some developmental delays around toileting, as well as sensory and behavioral issues. Many thanks in advance for any advice you may have.

    We went through this nearly 5 years ago, but at that time, neuropsych. evaluations for ASD were only done in San Francisco, with a small team of psychologists and a speech therapist.  Not a big deal to request this with your East Bay-based pediatrician.  At the time, the wait was about 6 months.  We were first referred to child psychiatry who did a phone assessment and then we were put in the queue for the in-person assessment (about 3 hours long) in SF.

    Good luck!

    P.S. If you want to get a far-better understanding of your child with a more thorough assessment, I recommend you also see a private neuropsychologist such as Ori Elis, Lisa Greenberg or Carina Grandison.  It will cost big bucks but be soooo worth it!

    We liked Jose Lopez and Alexander Klein at Kaiser Oakland. We ended up going to the ASD Center in SF for the eval, which was thorough.

      I've seen excellent, thorough evaluation reports from practitioners at Kaiser Autism Clinic in San Francisco.  Also, for future reference,  students who do not attend public school, are still entitled to many services provided under special education law, such as a free evaluation through your local school to address concerns. There are many caring, informed, talented school psychologists who do excellent, thorough evaluations in the schools.

  • Kaiser for autism services?

    (2 replies)

    We're planning a move back to Berkeley after being out of state, and we just got a diagnosis of autism for our 6 year old son. We're currently with Kaiser in Oregon and they are offering social skills groups and have referred us for ABA (although there's a shortage of providers and wait lists are long). When we move we'll be able to change insurance - we like Kaiser a lot, but if it's easier to access autism therapies through other insurance providers in the Bay Area, we'd switch. Two questions: 1) If anyone has had both Kaiser and non-Kaiser insurance and needed autism services, which did you prefer? 2) Any anecdotes about good or bad insurance experiences related to autism services? 

    I'd also appreciate any additional general advice about accessing autism services in the East Bay, although I'm sure I'll be able to track it down online - it's overwhelming to plan a move and figure out all of this. Thanks!

    We have two kids on the spectrum and Kaiser has been great for our family. The challenges around shortage of service providers exists, reagardless of whether you have Kaiser or another insurance provider. I especially appreciate that Kaiser Oakland has an autism specialist on staff in their child psychiatry department, who is a great resource for navigating systems and even helping with family challenges that arise around the diagnosis.

    We briefly had a different insurance provider and the wait time for an assesssment was over a year long, so I was relieved when we got back on Kaiser and had our oldest assessed within a month.

    Basically, there will be issues around finding service providers, no matter what, but I apprecaite how simple Kaiser makes everything else.

    You could also post this question to the East Bay Autism Facebook group to get a broad audience and range of opinions, as well as help with other services.



    You probably already know about Regional Center of the East Bay, but just in case you don't, be sure to apply to them ASAP.  They have a long wait time.  They may not be as helpful now, but have lots of services for housing, job assistance, etc for young adults with autism. 

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

Dr. Lopez - Kaiser Oakland for autism/sensory

Feb 2008

We have two appointments scheduled with Dr. Lopez at Kaiser in Oakland. It is our understanding that he is a specialist in Autism Spectrum Disorders. However, our son has been seen by another psychologist who thinks he has sensory integration disorder. Kaiser doesn't seem to have anyone who specializes in this.

We filled out an autism questionaire provided by our pediatrician, and the only red flag it raised was on a sensory related question- does your child sometimes cover his ears? We are scheduled for a full autism screening even though I told Dr. Lopez that my son does not engage in repetitive behavior, is not obsessive, and does not show any other signs of autism. He is a happy, affectionate child who is very sensitive and may have a language delay, though he has been assessed by OUSD for that twice and they found his development to be in the normal range. I do not object to the screening, I guess we just have to rule autism out, but I don't think anyone is listening to me. They just keep asking me over and over if my son makes eye contact. He does.

Can anyone share their experiences with Dr. Lopez in a similar situation, related to autism or sensory issues? I'm afraid that if your tool is a hammer everything looks like a nail, and that my son may be labeled inapproprately.

Most kids with autism spectrum disorders have SI, but most kids with SI do not have an autism spectrum disorder. I have been reading a lot. I'm not a psychologist but I've read the DSM, looked at the categories for ASD, and I don't think my son fits there.

We are scheduled for an assesment by an OT at OUSD, as well as with a psychologist and a speech and language specialist. I am not sure if we will hold our son out a year from kindergarten or send him to a public or private school this year. A lot depends on these assessments. We are casting a wide net, looking for a variety of opinions. Any insights on working with Dr. Lopez or with OUSD, or with the search for answers in general would be appreciated. If you have any advice on how to cope with all of this I could use that as well.

We have a son (now 13) who has been diagnosed as PDD-NOS, an autism spectrum condition. He has seen Dr. Lopez, but Lopez is not the only individual to make that or similar ASD diagnosis. He is very high functioning which makes a firm diagnosis difficult as you have no doubt read. Kaiser did a neuropsychological workup on our son when he was 6 and it was very helpful. Kate Mountain, Ph.D. is the individual who supervises those.

We have found Dr. Lopez to be very helpful. and I do not feel that we have been ignored by him. He has attended IEP meetings with the school district and was very helpful in dealing with them.

I would be very cautious about having your son assesed by either Dr Lopez or the Autism Spectrum Disorder clinic at Santa Teresa. Our experience with Dr Lopez was not very good. After meeting our son who was three at the time he seemed very quick to give him an ASD diagnosis. When I mention that we thought that we thought that he might have sensory integration disorder he immediately dismissed that thought, which is strange since every OT that my son has met since has said,, ''whoa your son DEFINITELY has sensory issues.'' Part of this may be because right now SPD is not a ''diagnosis'' and has no entry in the DSM that is in current use. We found Dr Lopez to be very unhelpful throughout the difficult process to find help for our son. He gave us a diagnosis and then had no suggestions for what to do next, the only resource he recommended was for programs that started with children who were six years old. When I pointed this out he shrugged and said, well I'm sure you must know more about what is available in the community than I do???!!!

The worst part was that after the whole painful excersise with both him and Kaiser Santa Teresea my son was labelled with autism and it appears everywhere on his medical chart... so now every medical visit we have for anything is overshadowed by this... ear infection... oh your son has visit.. oh your son has autism... well child visit.. oh your son has autism. The thing is my son is 7 now and is awesome, caring, funny but the whole experience follows us round like a shadow. disappointed with kaiser

We had an extremely painful experience with Dr. Lopez when my child was 3.5. Dr. Lopez very quickly diagnosed my child with ASD and then proceeded to paint a grim prognosis and suggested that we pay out of pocket for 40 hours a week of ABA therapy. We felt that he completely ignored any information that we gave him about our child's imagination or social interaction and that he dismissed our questions about the diagnosis. In retrospect he didn't seem to have very much knowledge about children in general. When we told him that our child was resisting pooping on the potty and would ask to put on a diaper to go poop he was astounded and said that was the wierdest thing he had ever heard. He also refused to give us any written reports or diagnosis saying that we should 'start fresh' with any subsquent evaluations that we did. We did manage to get a copy of his notes that we subsequently took to a longer, much more thorough evaluation at Children's Hospital in Oakland that ! found our child was NOT on the spectrum. In the report we got from Children's Dr. Wachtel points out that the CARS score Dr. Lopez gave my child was too low to indicate an autism spectrum disorder even though that isn't how he interpreted the score he gave. I am always astounded by how little skepticism there is about the autism diagnosis these days! People are so ready and willing to accept that autism is everywhere when the fact of the matter is we know very little about atypical childhood development. wish we'd waited the extra months and skipped the appt. at Kaiser

My son was a patient of Dr Lopez from age 8 to 12. Dr Lopez never made a diagnosis. He insisted that my son's issues were parenting problems that could be solved by setting firmer limits. I'd describe him as a ''behaviorist,'' examining cause and effect in relationships without much concern with deeper causes that might be biochemical or addressed through psychotherapy.

Dr Lopez saw my son at least 30 times. When my son started adolescence, his behavior became so challenging (running away from home, failing classes that he had been getting A's in a semester earlier, extreme, sometimes violent anger, etc.) We asked Dr Lopez several times for a referral for a neuro-psychological evaluation, which he refused. We ended up in the Kaiser emergency room because our son was talking about suicide. Dr Lopez was on call and handled the situation in a highly un-professional manner. At that point my husband and I decided that Dr Lopez may be well-intentioned but was not helping our son.

We paid for an neuro-psych evaluation ourselves and for the past year he has been seeing a private psychologist. Our son, at age 13, was immediately diagnosed with ADHD. With this diagnosis we have been able to move forward and my son is doing remarkably well.

I don't understand why Dr Lopez never recognized my son's disorder. Spending 4 years with a patient and not once suggesting that ADHD may be a factor. W