Why are your autism assessments held virtually and not in person?

When it comes to evaluating a child for autism, the benefits of conducting a virtual assessment significantly outweigh those of conducting the assessment in-person. (Written by Dr. Chuck M. Ng.)

Evaluating a child for autism spectrum disorder is a complex process which requires a detailed clinical history and observations of how a child interacts with others and toys. The former involves interviewing a parent, and this can be done from the comfort of your own home. In regard to the latter, I have found that observing a child playing with their own toys, in their own home, and with their parents to be a more natural experience, and thus a much better representation of their daily habits, patterns, and behaviors.

Why is a virtual autism assessment better for my child?

An in-office assessment has many unpredictable variables that cannot be avoided. Those variables can lead parents to feel that their child’s behavior in a medical office is not representative of their typical day. Some common complaints include:

  • “This is a new place, and he doesn’t do well in new places.”
  • “He doesn’t know you.”
  • “She is afraid of doctors.”
  • “He has never played with that type of toy before.”

An evaluation over video does not have these types of confounding variables. As long as the video connection is stable, and parents can follow fairly simple instructions, then video visits are often reliable in providing me an accurate picture of how a child behaves normally. I get to see how a child interacts with their parents, which is much more important than how they would interact with me (an unfamiliar adult). At-home evaluations also allow me to see how a child plays with their toys in their own way and in their own space.

The Bottom Line

Because they allow a child and his or her parents to interact in the comfort of their own home, virtual autism assessments have significant benefits and can be superior to an in-office assessment when it comes to observation of natural behavior. You can schedule a virtual assessment with Potomac Psychiatry by clicking here.


Chuck M. Ng, D.O. is a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician who cares for children with special needs. He has been trained to identify and treat a child’s academic, social, medical, and psychological needs. Read more about Dr. Ng here.