Formal assessments include structured observations where the examiner observes as the child plays by him or herself, or with parents. At other times, the examiner plays games with the child to assess those interactions and test for specific skills.

Some of the more well-known formal assessments include the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), the Child Autism Rating Scale (CARS), and the Autism Screening Instrument for Educational Planning, Revised (ASIEP-2).

  • Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) is a formal assessment that focuses on communication and social behavior. The examiner uses this method to rate the child's attempts to accomplish a set of eight tasks on a scale ranging from "normal" to definitively "abnormal". A pre-linguistic version of this assessment is available as well.
  • Child Autism Rating Scale (CARS) is a formal assessment that rates children with autism on 15 items, which are scored on a 4-point scale.
  • Autism Screening Instrument for Educational Planning, Revised (ASIEP-2) is a formal assessment that focuses on the behavioral domains of sensory input, relating, body concept, language, and social self-help.

A good formal assessment should ensure the minimum amount of disruption to the regular routines of the child as well as his/ her parents; based on the complete behavior patterns of the child and his/ her normal daily activities; and talks with the child and persons involved with him/ her. Normally, a formal assessment lasts for a whole day.

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