Autism Home > Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders

Diagnosing autism spectrum disorders involves a two-stage process. The first stage of diagnosing autism spectrum disorders entails developmental screening during "well child" checkups; the second stage consists of a comprehensive evaluation by a multidisciplinary team. Diagnosing autism spectrum disorders should include neurologic and genetic assessments, along with in-depth cognitive and language testing.

Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Overview

Although there are many concerns about labeling a young child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the earlier the diagnosis of ASD is made, the earlier needed interventions can begin. Evidence over the last 15 years indicates that intensive early intervention in optimal educational settings for at least 2 years during the preschool years results in improved outcomes in most young children with ASD.
 

Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders Using Behavioral Characteristics

In evaluating a child, clinicians rely on behavioral characteristics to make a diagnosis. Some of the characteristic behaviors of ASD may be apparent in the first few months of a child's life, or they may appear at any time during the early years. For the diagnosis, problems in at least one of the areas of communication, socialization, or restricted behavior must be present before the age of 3.
 

The Two-Stage Process for Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders

The diagnosis requires a two-stage process. The first stage involves developmental screening during "well child" checkups; the second stage entails a comprehensive evaluation by a multidisciplinary team.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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