Symptoms of autism usually begin in early childhood (by 12-18 months), but most children may not be diagnosed with this behavioural developmental disorder, until they start preschool or school. If your child’s pediatrician suspects there are signs of autism or developmental delay at regular checkups he may refer you to a specialist in treating children with autism. Diagnosis of autism can be difficult as the severity and signs and symptoms vary.
There is no single test to confirm the disorder. The autism specialist will observe your child and take a detailed history of your child's social skills, language development and skills and behaviour. Your child will be assessed by a number of developmental tests covering speech, language and psychological issues.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criterion is most often used to diagnose autism. To confirm the diagnosis your child must have six or more of the symptoms mentioned in DSM and two or more of those symptoms must be in social skills category.
Diagnosis of AS one of the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) can be difficult and complicated as there is no standardised diagnostic screen or schedule for it.
Currently several different screening instruments are used and each one has a different criteria. Hence depending on the screening tool that is used the same child can have different diagnoses. The core group of behaviors abnormalities which may make the doctor suspect the possibility of a diagnosis of AS include:
AS is diagnosed in two-stages. In the first step your child’s doctor screens for development. And if there is delayed development and your doctor suspects AS he will refer you to a specialist for evaluation to either confirm or rule out AS.
Most children with autism show symptoms by the age of 18 months, but the diagnosis is often not made until preschool or school years by the time when delays in language development and problem of social interactions are obvious. Early diagnosis preferably before the child turns 3 — helps to improve the prognosis.
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