If your child has autism, expect to see many different types of providers during their journey of care. Our resource guide can help you understand the roles of these different clinicians.
Your child’s team of treatment professionals
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can get help from many types of specially trained professionals generally known as pediatric providers.
When seeking help, look for a licensed practitioner with experience working with children with autism. These professionals work in many different places, like schools, hospitals, offices and in patient homes.
The guide below explains the different types of professionals your family may encounter during your child’s treatment. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it will help you learn more about titles and certifications that people who treat your child might have.
Behavioral health specialists
Board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA): BCBAs conduct behavioral assessments and use results to create programs that help children gain language and social skills as well as reduce challenging behaviors. BCBAs can teach family members how to carry out behavior interventions in a wide range of situations.
Care coordinator: Care coordinators help families find needed resources and services. They provide emotional support and can give you tools to advocate for your child’s need and your family’s overall well-being. Care coordinators are often social workers or licensed professional counselors.
Psychologist: Psychologists evaluate your child’s language, learn and social and self-care skills in order to diagnose ASD. They can also provide therapy and work with your child and family to improve skills of daily living and behavior. Psychologists do not proscribe medicine.
Psychometrist: Psychometrists give psychological tests and under the supervision of a psychologist. They work closely with psychologists and documents test results.
School psychologist: School psychologists work with your family and your child’s school to support and improve classroom behavior and coping skills. They also provide evaluations and monitor progress.
Developmental pediatrician: Developmental pediatricians evaluate, diagnose, advise, monitor and provide treatment for children, adolescents and their families with a wide range of developmental, learning and behavioral issues.
Gastroenterologist: Gastroenterologists are trained to identify and treat problems with feeding, digestion and toilet training.
Geneticist: Geneticists help explain the causes of inherited conditions that affect body structure and development. They may suggest tests to better understand your child’s conditions and heredity as well as possible treatments.
Genetic counselor: Genetic counselors are trained in medical genetics and counseling. They help families find the genetic cause for many conditions, including autism.
Neurologist: Neurologists specialize in problems associated with the central nervous system, typically in the brain and spinal cord. They can diagnose, treat and provide care management for children with many conditions, including autism and epilepsy.
Nurse practitioner: Nurse practitioners provide medical care and monitor medicine under the supervision of a doctor. They can answer questions about health problems, illnesses and development. They help families of children with autism through early identification, coordination of care and follow-up care.
Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists assess, diagnose and treat children with behavioral and developmental conditions, including autism. They provide treatment services and can prescribe and manage medicine.
Other health professionals
Art therapists: Art therapists use art to help children express their emotions. They have training in both art and counseling.
Audiologist: Audiologists identify, diagnose and treat hearing and balance problems. Children with speech or language delays should have their hearing tested.
Music therapist: Music therapists use music to enhance social, communicative, emotional, motor, sensory and cognitive functioning. They have training in both music and counseling.
Nutritionist: Nutritionists assess weight and growth to determine what and how much your child should eat based on his medical history. They then provide nutritional guidance for meal planning and tips on how to create a balanced and healthy diet.
Occupational therapist: Occupational therapists help children achieve independence in activities of daily living and self-help, including fine motor skills, coordination of movement, sensory and motor development, and balance.
Physical therapist: Physical therapists help children increase large muscle strength and improve coordination to become more independent. They also work to promote movement and flexibility.
Speech-language pathologist: Speech-language pathologists assess, diagnose and treat speech, language, communication and swallowing issues. If a child is not using words to communicate, they may help find alternative ways for the child to express his wants and needs. Speech-language pathologists are sometimes called speech therapists.
No matter what type of provider helps your child, Marcus Autism Center is here to provide the best possible care for your family.