Wilderwood’s assessments are built on a specialization and research interest in autism in women. The assessments are the foundation of a diagnostic trial for the WRADIANCE© assessment, a clinical tool being developed to better assess for clinically significant diagnostic components of autism in women. The foundation for the development of the WRADIANCE© is that autistic women can present very differently from the stereotypes about “autism” that are mired in a medical model drawn on observations of boys and men.
Taking a sensitive and compassionate approach to the assessment process as part of the diagnostic trial, Wilderwood brings in multiple assessment instruments to provide a comprehensive and thoughtful assessment for autism in adults. Other assessment instruments used alongside the Reflective Assessment include:
- SRS-2 Adult Autism Assessment;
- Comprehensive written narrative from each client;
- Face-to-face or remote discussion;
- Multiple pre-assessment baseline measures;
- Screening for depression and anxiety;
- Educational, employment, and medical history;
- Statement and observations from partners, parents, and/or colleagues;
- Discourse analysis;
- ACIA-based clinical interview.
Dr. Mark Evanko (ADHD)
35+ years in clinical practice
IBCCES Board Certified Cognitive Specialist
New Mexico Medical License A-874-88
Dr. Rebecca Evanko (Au)
B.A., M.A., Ph.D., M.A., CRC (in-progress)
IBCCES Board Certified Cognitive Specialist
How do I start the process?
Click on this link to access the application form.
How far out are appointments?
We are typically booked about 8-12 weeks in advance, but maintain a cancellation list.
What is the cost?
Assessments are provided by means of a donation directly to Wilderwood. The current minimum donation is $500. The donation contributes to Wilderwood’s programs and supports the work of autistic people in the community and helps offset the expense and time involved in performing clinical assessment and development of a new assessment instrument.
Do you take insurance?
No, and because of this there is no requirement for us to report any diagnostic findings to insurance companies or any third party for that matter. Clients are assured the outcome is absolutely private.
Is the assessment “official”?
Is it true that only a psychologist, psychiatrist, or neuropsychologist can diagnose autism in adults?
No. This is a common misconception. An unrestricted medical license, such as that held by Dr. Mark Evanko, is valid and legitimate to make a diagnosis of autism. Add to this Dr. Evanko’s 35+ years of clinical and diagnostic experience, knowledge of the presentation of autism in women and minority groups, and his qualifications to levy a diagnosis (where clinically apparent and supported by observational and documentary evidence) are exceptional.
We also refer to the respected AANE organization and its statements about assessments for autism in adults, which reads:
“Many individuals pursue neuropsychological testing with a neuropsychologist (Ph.D) or a psychiatrist (MD) … . The clinician will usually ask questions about your behavioral history, make behavioral observations, and administer various paper-and-pencil or computer-based tests to evaluate a range of cognitive, linguistic, and communicational abilities. … Any professional with the credentials and expertise to diagnose any other condition may also make a diagnosis of ASD.”
Assessment of autism at Wilderwood is a team effort. While the diagnosis is made under the medical license of Dr. Mark Evanko, the assessment process also involves Dr. Rebecca Evanko, who holds a research Ph.D in Cognitive Linguistics. Note the language from the AANE statement above that describes what is typically assessed in an evaluation: “…a range of cognitive, linguistic, and communicational abilities.” Moreover, her dissertation examined and analyzed differences between unfiltered (autistic) and filtered (non-autistic) thinking and communication. Dr. Evanko herself is also autistic.
Add to this that research into the often subtly nuanced presentation of autism in women and adult minorities is only recently emerging. As a result, many psychologists, psychiatrists, and other practitioners are not trained or experienced in the assessment of autism in women and adult minorities. As a specific example, we have had women who are clearly autistic speak or write of experiencing assessments where they have been told by psychologists or psychiatrists that they “cannot” be autistic because they “make eye contact” or “have a degree” or “don’t like trains” (unbelievably enough, this last one was told to us on two separate occasions).
An unrestricted medical license, such as that held by Dr. Mark Evanko, confers the practitioner’s ability to make diagnoses from the DSM-V: all diagnoses from the DSM-V. A psychologist or psychiatrist can also make diagnoses from the DSM-V; however, the latter licenses are restricted to psychological or psychiatric conditions. So, all these professionals can make the diagnosis of autism in adults. What makes the critical differential is the practitioner’s knowledge and experience of autism in women and minority adult populations.
How can the donation be made?
By credit card with a small fee levied by the third-party agency that collects the donations or via PayPal. The donation can also be made by check or money order made out to Wilderwood.
Is there a report?
Yes. Typical assessments comprise a multi-page written report as well as a separate one-page document with the assessment findings. We do this so that clients can then choose which report to use depending on their level of comfort in sharing personal information with others.
Can the assessment be done remotely or in-person?
What is involved in the narrative portion of the assessment?
Each assessment requires submission of a detailed narrative to facilitate a thorough discourse analysis. The absolute minimum is 5-6 pages, though it’s not uncommon to see 20 or even 30+ pages. The narrative asks you to recall events in your life both as a child and an adult, requiring reflective writing on your challenges, strengths, struggles, and achievements . Some clients choose to also illustrate their narratives with art, photos, poetry, or creative writing.
What does WRADIANCE mean?
WRADIANCE© stands for Wilderwood Reflective Assessment and Diagnostic Indicator of Autistic and Neurodivergent Cognitive Expression.
What is a diagnostic trial?
A diagnostic trial involves people who have signs or indications of the condition being studied and refers specifically to trials that are done in order to test, fine-tune, or otherwise develop a clinical tool and/or procedure for better diagnosing a condition. It also contributes to the reliability and validity statistics of a new diagnostic instrument as it is being developed.
Is my information private?
Yes. We do not keep data online. We do not share identifying information with anyone. We do not report out to insurance agencies or any third-parties. We do extract non-identifying data for the purposes of researching the diagnostic instrument being developed. Reports are sent through encrypted email. We are happy to send reports via regular mail on request. Once data has been extracted for analysis, all your documents are destroyed through a secure shredding service.
We also do NOT discuss your assessment with anyone — and will not even respond to anyone who may ask — without your express written permission. We will also communicate directly with you if anyone contacts us with a request to discuss your assessment.
Can the diagnosis be used for workplace or school accommodations?
For those receiving a diagnosis of autism, the report that is generated includes a letter of diagnosis from a licensed United States physician, and a general outline of potential accommodations that could be helpful at school or work. This letter can be used to start the process of requesting work or school accommodations. Specific accommodation request plans should be developed in collaboration with a therapist, counselor, or medical/mental health provider with whom there is an established therapeutic relationship.
Can the diagnosis be used for disability or Social Security claims?
Federal and state disability processes are involved and rigorous. The purposes of Wilderwood’s assessment process is to provide a diagnosis of autism if criteria is met and also as a diagnostic trial to develop a new assessment instrument. For those who are specifically seeking disability benefits, it is highly recommended to discuss the requirements of a particular claim with the governmental department, division, or other entity involved in that process. There is no therapeutic relationship established as part of the assessment and any data that is retained is non-identifying for the purposes of diagnostic trial; as such, no producible records are kept, nor is there any implied or ongoing clinical relationship with any client.
I don’t live locally; can I still access a diagnostic evaluation?
Yes. Because the assessment is for the purposes of diagnostic trial to develop a new instrument, it is important that a wide representation of participants is assessed for the purposes of reliability and validity of the instrument. This includes diversity in geographic location, age, ethnicity, gender, and other multicultural variables. Diverse locations, identities, and backgrounds, therefore, are welcome and encouraged.
Do you provide ongoing therapy or counseling as part of the assessment?
No. The assessment service is for the purposes of a one-time assessment of autism if diagnostic criteria are met and for the development of a new diagnostic tool. No therapeutic relationship is implied, nor should it be inferred.
Do you diagnose other conditions, such as ADHD, anxiety, or PTSD?
No. While we recognize that autism can be accompanied by other conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, or PTSD, this assessment service is solely for assessing autism and to contribute to development of a new clinical tool for the assessment of autism. Having said that, as part of the assessment protocol, we do screen for depression and anxiety and report those results to each client with the recommendation, if indicated, to follow-up with their own clinician or health care provider.
Do you assess international clients?
Research and Development of WRADIANCE
Some people have asked us about our research and development of the WRADIANCE instrument, including questions about an IRB (Institutional Review Board). Wilderwood is not part of a federally funded or university funded research program so the answer is we cannot access an IRB. That is not to say we are not concerned about ethics and integrity in our reseach: of course we are. This is why an IRB equivalent Research Review Panel (RRP), comprising professionals in the community of high standing, integrity, and ethics (including a judge, the Executive Director of a major legal firm, a licensed clinical social worker, a physician, a psychologist, and a former coordinator and member of an Ethics Committee at a major metropolitan hospital), was convened in September 2021. The RRP has performed the equivalent role of an IRB, reviewing and affirming our research protocol and procedures. Additionally, the main researcher holds a research Ph.D, has published prior research in academic and peer-reviewed journals, and has served as an academic Dean in several institutions of higher learning, and is therefore both conversant and practiced with requirements of ethical and appropriate academic research.
The Autistic Female Phenotype
Currently our research focus is on autism in women and the autistic female phenotype. This does not mean that we do not welcome assessment inquiries from the respective communities of transgender, nonbinary, gender-expansive, LGBTQ, and/or males: we absolutely do and will continue to be sensitive towards and honor pronoun and gender diversity preferences for all people. What it does mean is that our research focus is on autism as it presents in women.
Question not listed here?
Contact Wilderwood by phone at (505) 459-9813 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org