Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be difficult, since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorders. Doctors, Professional & Trained Specialists look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis. The doctor should refer the child to a team of professionals in developmental evaluation and early intervention.
A typical diagnostic evaluation involves a multi-disciplinary team of doctors including a pediatrician, psychologist, speech and language pathologist and occupational therapist.
It's very Important to realize that Early Diagnosis & Early Intensive Intervention is CRUCIAL to gain maximum benefit from existing therapies and it can make a big difference in the lives of many children.
By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable. However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. This delay means that children with an ASD might not get the help they need.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children receive autism screening at 18 and 24 months of age, and the M-CHAT Revised version is one of the AAP’s recommended tools.
Diagnosing an ASD takes two steps:
Often parents are the first to notice that their child is showing unusual behaviors such as failing to make eye contact, not responding to his or her name or playing with toys in unusual, repetitive ways. For a description of early indicators of autism, see Learn the Signs.
Unfortunately, doctors unfamiliar with diagnosing autism sometimes dismiss parent concerns, delaying diagnosis and the opportunity for early intervention therapies. Autism organizations are working hard to raise awareness of early signs among physicians as well as parents. We encourage parents to trust their instincts and find a doctor who will listen and refer their child to appropriate specialists for diagnosis.
Autism Spectrum Disorders can usually be reliably diagnosed by age 3, although new research is pushing back the age of diagnosis to as early as 6 months. Parents are usually the first to notice unusual behaviors in their child or their child's failure to reach appropriate developmental skills.
First, since vocal communication may be a problem, hearing tests are generally one of the first tests to be completed. Once hearing tests are completed, a complete neurological exam is given, along with cognitive and language testing.
Neurologists, speech therapists, psychomotor therapists, special educators, psychologists and psychiatrists are usually brought on board, and at the end of testing parents should be heavily involved in talking to doctors about the prognosis and decide together which way to proceed for treatment.
While there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, intensive, early intervention can help children improve their developmental behaviour.
It is important to remember that you do not need a diagnosis to begin helping your child. Whatever the final diagnosis ends up being is irrelevant to the fact that as a parent you know your child has challenges and you want to help your child. Don’t wait for a diagnosis to start looking at ways to encourage your child to grow.