What you need to know about the ADOS-2 autism test

ADOS-2 autismtest image | General Behavior Analysis

Evaluating autism diagnosis with ADOS-2  test

The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Second Edition (ADOS-2) is a gold standard observational assessment for diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The ADOS-2 is known as the Autism Test for excellence. It contains standard activities designed to elicit behaviors that are relevant to the diagnosis of ASD. This test is a semi-structured, standardized assessment instrument designed to obtain information in the areas of communication, reciprocal social interaction, and restricted and repetitive behaviors.  

By observing and coding these behaviors, you can obtain information that informs diagnosis, intervention, treatment planning, and educational placement. This test can be applied to different developmental levels and to different chronological ages. It is a needed test for clinical and research purposes. The ADOS-2 assessment is very natural and play-based.

It’s not like going to a regular doctor’s office and getting poked and prodded – kids have fun at our centers. A variety of different toys and activities are used during the assessment that make it fun. Following the assessment, the clinician completes a scoring process, and results are summarized and sent to the doctor for use in diagnostic determination or anyone with a master’s degree in psychology, speech–language pathology or related field

The autism test as others tests is designed for individuals as young as 12-months of age all the way through adulthood. For adequate participation in the assessment, the autism test requires a minimum developmental level of 12-months and no significant sensory or motor impairments (e.g., blindness, deafness, confined to wheelchair). ADOS-2 test can accommodate people across the lifespan because it comprises several modules. Clinicians select the appropriate module for an individual based upon the person’s language ability (ranging from no speech to verbally fluent) and age.

Depending on patient preference or situation and the professional’s judgement, an autism test evaluation may be completed in one appointment. In other circumstances, the assessment may be completed within two appointments. Similarly, what to expect with the ADOS-2, the test takes between 30-60 minutes for a clinician to administer.

How is the ADOS-2 test administered?

Patients are typically scheduled with an unknown clinician or with little familiarity to obtain a sample of the patient’s behavior that is not influenced by previous interactions. When children are being assessed, the parent may be asked to be present in the room for the entire administration. Parent’s role is to observe, although the clinician may ask the parent to interact with the child in specific ways at certain points during the exam. For adolescents and adults, the autism test ADOS-2 is typically administered with only the client and clinician in the room

The results of the assessment are reviewed with families shortly following the completion of the comprehensive evaluation. In some cases, this is during the same appointment as the assessment. In other cases, a separate follow-up appointment may be scheduled to go over the results and discuss recommendations. In addition to spending time with a clinician to review the results of the evaluation and address any questions, families are also provided a written report with detailed recommendations. This is typically available 1-2 weeks following the assessment.

For example, some activities done to the patients are:

  • Construction Task
  • Joint Interactive Play
  • Demonstration Task
  • Description of a Picture
  • Telling a Story From a Book
  • Creating a Story
  • Conversation and Reporting
  • Social Difficulties and Annoyance
  • Friends, Relationships, and Marriage
  • Loneliness
  • Emotions
  • Cartoons

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How do i know if my child needs this test?

It is critical to recognize and diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder as early as possible because ADOS-2 test is a side assessment to get better and very specific diagnosis to your child, early intervention will have the greatest impact on your child’s development. So trust your parental instincts. Researchers say that parents are good at picking up early signs of ASD. 

As a mother or father, you know your kid better than anyone else and you are in the best position to observe the early signs. The key is to monitor your child’s development and report any delays or concerns to your child’s pediatrician immediately. ASD involves a variety of developmental delays, so keep a close eye on your child if skipping social, emotional, and cognitive milestones.


The next step is to take action if you’re concerned. Every child develops at a different pace, and when it comes to development, there’s a wide range of what is considered typical. It is important to share your concerns with your child’s pediatrician immediately and ask that your child be screened for developmental delays or ASD with an ADOS-2 autism test. 

What do clinicians use for this autism test?

ADOS-2 involves interactive stimulus materials such as toys, books, and even software to use in a tablet or computer. It is divided into modules, each requiring just 40 to 60 minutes to administer. Patient, child or adult, being evaluated is given only one module, selected on the basis of his or her expressive language level and chronological age. Following guidance provided by the doctor/psychologist diagnosis, they choose the module appropriate for the individual under evaluation.

  • Toddler Module – children between 12 and 30 months of age who do not consistently use phrase speech.
  • Module 1 – for children 31 months and older who do not consistently use phrase speech.
  • Module 2 – for children of any age who use phrase speech but are not verbally fluent.
  • Module 3 – for verbally fluent children and young adolescents.
  • Module 4 – for verbally fluent older adolescents and adults.

In Summary, ADOS-2 is considered the “gold standard” for ASD assessment, it is important to have in mind that it is just one source of information and is not enough for making a final diagnosis of ASD. It should always be part of a major evaluation with other autism tests that considers a person’s behavioral history, information provided by parents, in-site behavioral observations both during and outside of the ADOS-2 administration, and the judgement of experienced doctors or related professionals.

Ask your doctor if you need the Autism test for your child or adolescent and schedule the appointment here at General Behavior Analysis.


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