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Diagnosing Autism

It is not always easy to make an autism diagnosis, and the disorder may go unrecognized, especially in mildly affected children or when it is masked by other conditions. Because of these difficulties, it is best to have a child evaluated by a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals experienced in diagnosing this disorder. Doctors rely on a core group of behaviors that are characteristic of this condition, such as the impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others.

Diagnosing Autism: An Overview

Autism varies widely in its severity and symptoms and may go unrecognized, especially in mildly affected children or when it is masked by more debilitating handicaps.
 

Behaviors That Could Indicate Autism

Doctors rely on a core group of behaviors when making an autism diagnosis.
 
These behaviors include:
 
  • Impaired ability to make friends with peers
  • Impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • Absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
  • Stereotyped, repetitive, or unusual use of language
  • Restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in intensity or focus
  • Preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
  • Inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals.
     
Doctors will often use a questionnaire or other screening instrument to gather information about a child's development and behavior. Some screening instruments rely solely on parent observations; others rely on a combination of parent and doctor observations. If screening instruments indicate the possibility of autism, doctors will ask for a more comprehensive evaluation.
 
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Information About Autism

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