Diagnosing Autism image


Diagnosing Autism

March 8, 2022

By ABA Psychological Services

Diagnosing Autism
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong, highly complex disorder. Autism can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

Parents often wonder how do I know if my child has Autism? As they’re usually the first ones to notice if their child’s development isn’t following typical development during the first two years of life. At this point, it’s important to turn to medical professionals in order to start the process of diagnosing whether or not the child has ASD. This team may include a psychiatrist, developmental pediatrician, pathologist, or pediatric neurologist. Once they’ve had a chance to test the child and observe a range of behaviors, they should be able to give a diagnosis.

Why is an Autism Diagnosis Important?
It’s critical because the chances of improving long term outcomes is high with early intervention. An early Autism diagnosis will provide the child with a proper educational and treatment program that will address the unique challenges associated with ASD. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) and therapies based on the science of learning and behavior are the most effective and commonly used treatment programs for autism. The Association for Behavior Analysis International is a great resource to learn more about this effective therapy. Early intervention can improve communication and social skills, mental development, and learning.

Diagnosing Adolescents and Adults
While it’s ideal to have an early diagnosis of Autism, that doesn’t mean it’s not important for older children and adults. For adolescents and older children who have difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication, along with other behavioral issues, it’s important to know if you have autism because a proper diagnosis will help serve as the foundation for the appropriate treatment, both at school and home.

Many adults with autism are relieved to find out there’s a reason they may not be reaching their full potential. With an ASD diagnosis, they can find the treatment that will work right for them so they can focus on maximizing their strengths and working on their weaknesses.

What does an Autism Diagnosis Entail?
There are no medical tests for diagnosing ASD. Based on observing the individual’s communication, social interaction, activities, interests, and other behaviors, medical professionals should be able to come up with a proper diagnosis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities advises parents that their children should be screened for Autism by a family pediatrician three times by the age of three - at 9, 18, 24, or 30 months. The Autism Society is a terrific resource for more information on screening and diagnosis.

Medical Diagnosis
A psychologist, pediatrician, or other specialized physician can make an Autism diagnosis based on diagnostic tests and a review of the symptoms present. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association released its fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). A medical diagnosis of ASD is most commonly made using the criterion detailed in DSM-5.

Educational Determination
There are some cases in which a team of educational professionals complete an evaluation to determine if the student qualifies for support at school. This includes special education for students who qualify under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This is not the same as a medical diagnosis because it only includes programs within the school setting.

ABA Therapy for those with an Autism Diagnosis
An Autism diagnosis is important because it gets the right treatment started along with access to programs, resources, and benefits that come with it. ABA Psychological Services specializes in providing the best ABA therapy services for children and adults with an ASD diagnosis. Our experienced behavior technicians provide one-on-one sessions, supervised by our behavior analysts, to ensure those with an Autism diagnosis thrive and maximize their potential. You can learn more about ABA at the New York State Association for Behavior Analysis.

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