Diagnosing Autism: How a Diagnosis of Autism is Determined

Autism has a wide variety of symptoms that can range from mild to severe. Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be misdiagnosed. Classic autism has a core of symptoms that include:

  • Impaired ability to engage socially
  • Impaired ability to initiate or maintain a conversation
  • Inability to play appropriately or use imagination
  • Stereotyped, unusual, repetitive use of language or behavior (flapping, spinning)
  • Abnormal or intense focus on certain subjects or objects
  • Inflexible adherence to certain routines and rituals

Doctors may use a questionnaire or other screening resources to get a feel for the child’s development. The screening process may require a combination of the parent’s observations as well as the doctor’s. Parents may find it helpful to refer back to family photos and videos to track their child’s development. If the screening indicates a possibility for autism, the doctor will most likely perform a more comprehensive evaluation.

Autism is an intricate disorder. Diagnosis requires a team of psychologists, neurologists, psychiatrists, and therapists to accurately define the disorder. As hearing loss can cause behavioral problems that may be mistaken for autism, a hearing test will often be performed to rule that out. If autism is the definitive diagnosis, the team of physicians and therapists will sit down with the child’s parents and discuss the results with them. Every case of autism is unique and specified to each child. While a child may have little trouble with verbal skills, he may have tremendous difficulty with social interaction.

It is important to understand that a child with autism can be taught strategies to learn and focus given appropriate education and therapy. Experts agree that early diagnosis is essential to a child, and most ASD children respond best to highly structured, specialized plans. Studies show that early intervention in the years up to preschool can be the most effective in improving the outcome for children with autism.

Entry Filed under: Common Symptoms

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