Getting an autism diagnosis:
There are several autism screening tools that can be used, including the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) performed by a child psychologist, and parent interview scales such as the Child Autism Rating Scale (CARS), Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R), and Developmental, Dimensional and Diagnostic Interview (3DI). Measures of child’s speech and language skills and intellectual ability also help professionals plan intervention.
Monitoring, screening, evaluating, and diagnosing children with ASD as early as possible is important to make sure children receive the services and support they need to reach their full potential. There are several steps in this process.
Step 1: Developmental Monitoring
Developmental monitoring observes how your child grows and changes over time and whether your child meets the typical developmental milestones in playing, learning, speaking, behaving, and moving. Parents, grandparents, early childhood providers, and other caregivers can participate in developmental monitoring. You can use a brief checklist of milestones to see how your child is developing. If you notice that your child is not meeting milestones, talk with your doctor or nurse about your concerns.
Step 2: Autism Screening - Developmental Screening
Developmental Screening takes a closer look at how your child is developing. Your child will get a brief test, or you will complete a questionnaire about your child. The tools used for developmental and behavioral screening are formal questionnaires or checklists based on research that ask questions about a child’s development, including language, movement, thinking, behavior, and emotions. Developmental screening can be done by a doctor or nurse, but also by other professionals in healthcare, community, or school settings. Developmental screening is more formal than developmental monitoring and normally done less often than developmental monitoring. Your child should be screened if you or your doctor have a concern. However, developmental screening is a regular part of some of the well-child visits for all children even if there is not a known concern.
FAQ on Autism Assessment
1. At what age can autism be diagnosed?
2. How is the diagnosis of autism made? Are there any special tests the doctor can do to determine whether my child is autistic?
3. What are the tests that the pediatricians and specialists will use in the diagnosis of ASD?
4. How is a typical autism assessment like?
5. What can I do to prepare for the autism assessment session?
- Try to schedule the autism assessment to take place when your child is at his best. If your child needs to take an afternoon nap, then don’t schedule the session in the afternoon.
- Allow the child to have plenty of rest the night before as well as a good breakfast on the day of the test.
- Note your child’s developmental milestones (e.g. age of walking, first single words, etc.) and any unusual behaviours (e.g. spinning body, lining up objects, etc.) and how long these behaviours have lasted. All these information will be useful during the parental interview.