Autism: Testing and Assessment
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) comprises a cluster of developmental disorders which impact the way a person behaves, communicates and socializes with others. A diagnosis of ASD comprises several conditions which used to be diagnosed separately: Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Early diagnosis can significantly benefit a child with ASD. However, diagnosing ASD can be difficult as there is no lab test that can determine if an individual is suffering from the condition. Doctors usually have to rely on observation of the person’s behavior and listening to their parent’s concerns.
Autism is generally diagnosed after the following are completed
- Developmental Screening
- Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation
As part of Developmental Screening, the doctor appointed will screen your child for any developmental complaints during regular and routine visits. The doctor may or may not refer you to a specialist in case developmental disorders are spotted. The specialist’s job is to run physical tests on your child to eliminate the possibility of any other causes that might be leading to the existing symptoms. Tools such as the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers may be employed. The MHCT is a twenty-question list for parents of children who are suspected of having ASD. The parents fill out the checklist depending on which the child’s risk of autism is quantified as low, medium or high. If a high risk is assessed, a Comprehensive Behavior Evaluation may be in order. Otherwise, follow-up questions are usually used to classify the results further.
A Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation is conducted by a team of specialists, which may include child psychologists/neurologists, speech/language pathologists, developmental pediatricians and occupational therapists. The patient is given a physical and neurological examination in this step. Children are assessed to see if they are learning basic age-appropriate skills or if they might have delays. Children should be screened specifically for ASD during regular well-care visits at 18 months, 24 months, if they are at high risk for ASD (other families previously diagnosed) or if they exhibit behaviors associated with ASD.
Some additional screening tools are: Gilliam Autism Rating Scale, Childhood Autism Rating Scale, Ages and Stages Questionnaires, Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule.
Need more help?
Diagnosing Autism can be a bit of a challenge due to lack of any one specific diagnostic test that can determine whether a person is Autistic or not. Early diagnosis can help a child prepare for the challenges that he or she may have to face as a result of the condition in the future. The therapists at Agor Behavioral Health Services are available to assist families navigating diagnosis and treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment by calling 630-621-5824.
Other Resources for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Austim Spectrum Disorder: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html