Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) presents various symptoms and challenges occurring in learners of any age. A formal autism diagnosis cannot be determined with a simple blood test. Early intervention screenings with doctors and clinicians incorporate behavioral observation and analysis to track a child’s autism symptoms. ASD diagnosis can occur at a milestone check-up in the first few years of a child’s life or much later. Early screenings and intervention can help children and families secure the tools they need for optimal growth through childhood. Many children and parents find the screenings and behavioral analysis overwhelming. However, a formal diagnosis is the first step towards a more independent future for any child with ASD.
What Are The Two Steps of Autism Diagnosis?
Formal autism diagnosis consists of two steps: screening and evaluation. This may occur in the first few years of a child’s life or later as signs and symptoms of autism present themselves. Autism screenings allow doctors and clinicians to rule out other causes of developmental delays. The screenings ensure a child receives the correct treatment and support for their needs. Screenings may include specialists like child psychologists, speech pathologists, neurologists, and pediatricians. These experts will assess a child’s developmental strengths and weaknesses. Screening and evaluation tools may include:
- Doctors may give families a checklist to monitor their child’s behavior and symptoms at home over several months. These checklists allow parents to watch for neuro-typical milestones such as eye contact, pointing at objects, and early language development.
- Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS): This system uses a fifteen-point scale to evaluate a child’s social responses in verbal and nonverbal communication.
- Diagnosis interviews between parents and clinicians help make a formal and definitive autism diagnosis.
After screenings and evaluations, clinicians may give a formal autism diagnosis. They may also recommend that the child receive future screenings as they age. Early intervention and diagnosis can provide families with a support team to observe their child’s development and autism symptoms.
Therapists and specially trained clinicians can provide children with ASD therapy. Some children may require speech and language support or ABA and physical therapy to address learning challenges. At the same time, therapists and clinicians can help parents build supportive home environments for the whole family. A support team can alleviate stress, worry, and overwhelm for parents facing their child’s initial months and years of their diagnosis.
5 Things You Should Know About Autism Diagnosis
A formal autism diagnosis can take time, leaving parents nervous about their child’s future. Here are five keys to understanding the process of an ASD diagnosis:
- Parents and clinicians evaluate symptoms. Parents undergo interviews of their child’s behavior and home life. In addition, pediatricians or therapists make their own behavioral observations.
- Evaluations cover language, intelligence, life skills, and general behavior. Clinicians look at a child’s response to stimuli watching how they listen, process, and react.
- Evaluations can last anywhere from three to six hours, depending on a child’s age.
- Only doctors and therapists with ASD training can diagnose autism.
- Evaluations give parents a better understanding of their child’s needs and strengths.
While it may take time to receive a formal autism diagnosis, screenings and evaluations are the first steps towards supporting a child with ASD on their developmental journey.
Contact EMIT for More Information
There are many approaches to autism therapy to meet your child’s formal ASD diagnosis. At EMIT, we believe in holistic, individualized support for varying degrees of ASD to help children and their families learn and grow. Our therapeutic approaches help each child with in-home telehealth services built for the flexibility of your life’s demands. Begin telehealth autism therapy today. Find us online or at 844.983.0240.