Autism or, more correctly, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that currently has no medical test to make a diagnosis. As such, diagnosing autism has always been a challenge. For many, a diagnosis came late in life or not at all. There have been some individuals who have been misdiagnosed yet still have a behavioral condition. Fortunately, over the last few decades, research into ASD has greatly improved while giving medical professionals and treatment experts not only a deeper understanding of the condition but also better tools to use in diagnosing autism. This results in a more comprehensive and effective treatment. At Ascend Autism, we make educating individuals with ASD, parents and families, and caregivers a top priority. Doing so gives all stakeholders a better sense of how to not just cope with the condition, but enhance the lives of all affected by ASD.
Signs to Look for in Diagnosing Autism
Perhaps the best method to assist in diagnosing autism is educating oneself on the early warning signs of ASD.. While not everyone along the autism spectrum will exhibit the same symptoms, there are some common signs to look out for. These signs can develop at two years of age or earlier and include:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Having little interest in other children or adults
- Limited display of language
- Getting upset by minor changes in routine
- Unusual or repetitive behaviors
Children can also be at a higher risk of developing ASD if they had a low birth weight, environmental exposure to lead (frequently in lead-based paint), and a family history of ASD. It’s recommended that developmental and behavioral screening is conducted for all children to put caregivers in the best position possible to monitor the possible development of ASD. Screening children at 9, 18, and 30 months can help ensure that ASD is detected as soon as possible, which means that therapy and treatment can begin as early as possible when it is most effective.
Screening and Monitoring
Two techniques for correctly diagnosing autism include developmental screening and then developmental monitoring:
- Developmental screening: Through behavioral testing, observation, and questionnaires, screening covers how a child’s use of language, their movement, thinking, and behavior as well as their emotional reactions to situations and stimulus. Developmental screening can be conducted by healthcare professionals or caregivers with proper training.
- Developmental monitoring: This involves the steady and regular observation of how a child grows and changes over time. Typically this is guided by looking at to what degrees a child meets certain milestones in playing, learning, speaking, behaving, and moving. Monitoring is a process that can be participated in by everyone in the child’s life. Missing a milestone or reaching it in a non-standard way can be a sign of an issue and is just one tool in diagnosing autism.
While research into ASD has increased the availability of testing and the extent of monitoring, diagnosing autism requires patience and follow-up. There is usually no single event or sign that asserts an individual has ASD. Rather, it is a combination of issues and responses, which when recognized early allows for treatments to be put in place to mitigate effects from worsening.
Diagnosing autism has and will continue to improve through better practices, more sophisticated screening, and ongoing medical science research. Although autism spectrum disorder is still a challenge for individuals, their family, and caregivers to address, it is becoming more and more a condition that can be treated with success.
Ascend Autism has the programs and expertise to get early intervention underway and provide ongoing therapies after early intervention services conclude. We offer an array of services for treating autism spectrum disorder and have committed ourselves to help children and families succeed. For instance, we offer the following: