Autism Diagnostic Team first in Four States

Tuesday, March 08, 2011 - Autism Diagnostic Team first in Four States

JOPLIN, Mo.—Ozark Center for Autism has assembled a group of highly skilled individuals to form an Autism Diagnostic Team, the first of its kind in the Four States. The team, trained in collaboration with the University of Kansas Child Center for Health and Development, provides evaluations for autism spectrum disorders and offers guidance on resources available in the community.

Led by board-certified pediatrician Dr. Dian Doody, the team offers a timely, comprehensive diagnosis. Previously, local families had to travel to Kansas City, Columbia, or Springfield, Mo., for a diagnosis and were sometimes put on a waiting list up to a year.

Since the team’s services began in January, they have provided a diagnosis for seven local families. “It is all too common for parents to feel as though they are on their own when it comes to understanding treatment and therapy options for their child living with autism; however, it is critical to get intervention as early as possible,” said Paula Baker, Freeman Chief Clinical Officer and administrator for all autism programming. “That is the very purpose of the Autism Diagnostic Team—to become an advocate for children and their parents.”

Autism is a developmental disability characterized by impairment in social interaction and communication, as well as restricted or repetitive behaviors. Early diagnosis and intervention can greatly improve a child’s ability to learn, socialize, and communicate.

When a child undergoes an evaluation by the Autism Diagnostic Team, he or she will be observed by each of the following:

  • A board-certified pediatrician with advanced training in the diagnosis of developmental disorders
  • A licensed clinical psychologist with experience in diagnostic evaluations
  • A board-certified behavior analyst with specialized training in autism spectrum disorders
  • A board-certified speech pathologist with expertise in communication disorders
  • A pediatric nurse serving as a parent educator and advocate for children with special needs

During an evaluation, the team utilizes standardized tests, behavioral observation, and information from parents, teachers, and others who know the child on a personal level.

The team then summarizes and communicates their findings to the family. A brief written summary is available the day of the evaluation, while a more complete report is provided to the family and the child’s physician approximately two weeks later. Whether or not the child receives an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis, the team provides the family with recommendations to address the child’s specific needs.

Families who may benefit from the Autism Diagnostic Team available at Ozark Center for Autism are encouraged to call 417.347.7850.
About Ozark Center
An integral component of Freeman Health System based in Joplin, Missouri, Ozark Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services to children, adults, and families in an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Ozark Center continually looks for innovative ways to address the mental health needs of the community and promote awareness of mental illness in an effort to eliminate the discrimination associated with it. For more information, visit or call 417.347.7600.