Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be difficult, since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.
ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. 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 ASD might not get the help they need.
Diagnosing ASD takes two steps:
Developmental screening is a short test to tell if children are learning basic skills when they should, or if they might have delays. During developmental screening, the doctor might ask the parent some questions or talk and play with the child during an exam to see how she learns, speaks, behaves, and moves. A delay in any of these areas could be a sign of a problem.
The second step of diagnosis is a comprehensive evaluation. This thorough review may include looking at the child’s behavior and development and interviewing the parents. It may also include a hearing and vision screening, genetic testing, neurological testing, and another medical testing.
In some cases, the primary care doctor might choose to refer the child and family to a specialist for further assessment and diagnosis. Specialists who can do this type of evaluation include:
American Academy of Pediatrics Developmental Surveillance & Screening Algorithm within a Pediatric Preventive Care Visit
© Autism Society of Indiana
Autism Society of Indiana is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit charity