Early Diagnosis Means Better Outcomes
Although autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be diagnosed at any age, it is described as a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first 24 months of life. ASD can usually be reliably diagnosed by the time children are two years old.
It’s important to seek an evaluation as soon as possible because the earlier ASD is diagnosed, the sooner that services, educational programs, and behavioral therapies can start. Early intervention results in better outcomes.
Health care providers diagnose ASD by evaluating the child’s behavior and development. Diagnosis in young children is often a two-stage process as described below:
Stage One: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive screening for developmental delays and disabilities at their 9, 18, and 24 or 30 month well-child visits, with specific autism screenings at their 18 and 24 month well-child visits. A child may receive additional screening if they are at high risk for ASD or developmental problems. Children at high risk include those who have a family member with ASD, those who show behaviors that are typical of ASD, have older parents, have certain genetic conditions, or who had a very low birth weight.
The screening process for young children also involves parent and caregiver feedback and concerns about the child’s behavior. If a child shows developmental differences in behavior or functioning during this screening process, the health care provider may refer the child for additional evaluation.
Stage Two: Additional diagnostic evaluation is usually performed by a team of health care providers who have experience diagnosing ASD. The team may include child neurologists, developmental pediatricians, speech-language pathologists, child psychologists and psychiatrists, educational specialists, and occupational therapists. The evaluation may include medical and neurological exams, observation of the child’s behavior, assessment of the child’s language, cognitive abilities, and age-appropriate skills such as eating, dressing, and toileting, and discussion with the child’s parents/caregivers about their observations and concerns. The evaluation may also include a hearing test and bloodwork to determine if there are other illnesses or learning disorders present.
Once the evaluation is completed, the outcome may be a formal diagnosis and recommendations for treatment to start as soon as possible.
Harsha Autism Centers provide ongoing care for children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 2-22) with autism to improve the quality of their lives. If you would like learn more about how Harsha Autism Centers can help please contact us at email@example.com or call (812) 233-8833.