How Autism Is Diagnosed

Published on December 13th, 2018

Updated on January 3rd, 2024

How Autism Is Diagnosed

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a disorder that has become more prevalent in the last 30 years. It is considered a neurological and developmental disorder that is typically diagnosed between the ages of 1 and 5 years old. ASD causes deficiencies in the following areas:

What Is the Child Screened For?

Autism is diagnosed based on a spectrum of severity. Assessment is performed through an evaluation of symptoms. A child being screened is monitored for behaviors that indicate autism, like:

Who Performs the Evaluation?

A multidisciplinary team performs evaluations. Many medical doctors are not equipped to complete a screening for autism on their own, but can indicate early signs. If the child is showing symptoms of ASD, they will be referred to further screening. Professionals that will be involved in the screening may include:

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Each of these professionals will aid in diagnosis and treatment planning.

What is the Diagnostic Criteria for ASD?

Diagnosis of ASD based on a scale that reflects the severity of impairment. There are three levels of severity:

Each level of severity is based on the prevalence and severity of impairments of:

What is the First Step in Seeking Help?

If you have concerns about your child, it is important to address the situation as early as possible. Early intervention will be important in the child’s recovery. To begin, check for signs of ASD. Children with ASD will:

You may use the Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) as a reference. The M-CHAT is a checklist of signs, symptoms, and informative questions about your child’s behavior and development. If the questions on this checklist reflect your child, it is important to begin the screening process.

The first step to having your child evaluated is to make an appointment with a pediatrician. Your pediatrician will make an initial evaluation and refer your to professionals who can screen your child. They will also help you develop a treatment plan. The treatment plan will include both rehabilitative measures and family therapy. Education for family members will be important for maintaining structure for the child at home.

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