Is Screening The Same Thing As Diagnosing
No. Screening is NOT diagnosing. A positive screening test result does not mean that your child will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
Also, you may get a negative result from the screening test and still worry that your child may have ASD.
Screening tests are just that – they screen for characteristics of the disorder. However, ASD is such a unique disorder on everyone that the screening may not be able to touch on everything.
This process is conducted in collaboration with professionals as well as parents and caregivers.
That is why by itself, the screening results are not diagnosis. They are just indicators. You should consult professionals after the test to get a proper and correct diagnosis.
Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder
In order to determine whether your child has autism spectrum disorder or another developmental condition, clinicians look carefully at the way your child interacts with others, communicates, and behaves. Diagnosis is based on the patterns of behavior that are revealed.
If you are concerned that your child has autism spectrum disorder and developmental screening confirms the risk, ask your family doctor or pediatrician to refer you immediately to an autism specialist or team of specialists for a comprehensive evaluation. Since the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is complicated, it is essential that you meet with experts who have training and experience in this highly specialized area.
The team of specialists involved in diagnosing your child may include:
Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a brief process. There is no single medical test that can diagnose it definitively; instead, in order to accurately pinpoint your childs problem, multiple evaluations and tests may be necessary.
How Parents Can Spot The Warning Signs
As a parent, youre in the best position to spot the earliest warning signs of autism. You know your child better than anyone and observe behaviors and quirks that a pediatrician, in a quick fifteen-minute visit, might not have the chance to see. Your childs pediatrician can be a valuable partner, but dont discount the importance of your own observations and experience. The key is to educate yourself so you know whats typical and whats not.
Monitor your childs development. Autism involves a variety of developmental delays, so keeping a close eye on whenor ifyour child is hitting the key social, emotional, and cognitive milestones is an effective way to spot the problem early on. While developmental delays dont automatically point to autism, they may indicate a heightened risk.
Take action if youre concerned. Every child develops at a different pace, so you dont need to panic if your child is a little late to talk or walk. When it comes to healthy development, theres a wide range of typical. But if your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, or you suspect a problem, share your concerns with your childs doctor immediately. Dont wait.
Regression of any kind is a serious autism warning sign
Helping Your Child With Autism Thrive Tip 1: Provide Structure And Safety
Learning all you can about autism and getting involved in treatment will go a long way toward helping your child. Additionally, the following tips will make daily home life easier for both you and your child with ASD:
Be consistent. Children with ASD have a hard time applying what theyve learned in one setting to others, including the home. For example, your child may use sign language at school to communicate, but never think to do so at home. Creating consistency in your childs environment is the best way to reinforce learning. Find out what your childs therapists are doing and continue their techniques at home. Explore the possibility of having therapy take place in more than one place in order to encourage your child to transfer what he or she has learned from one environment to another. Its also important to be consistent in the way you interact with your child and deal with challenging behaviors.
Stick to a schedule. Children with ASD tend to do best when they have a highly-structured schedule or routine. Again, this goes back to the consistency they both need and crave. Set up a schedule for your child, with regular times for meals, therapy, school, and bedtime. Try to keep disruptions to this routine to a minimum. If there is an unavoidable schedule change, prepare your child for it in advance.
Signs And Symptoms Of Autism In Babies And Toddlers
If autism is caught in infancy, treatment can take full advantage of the young brains remarkable plasticity. Although autism is hard to diagnose before 24 months, symptoms often surface between 12 and 18 months. If signs are detected by 18 months of age, intensive treatment may help to rewire the brain and reverse the symptoms.
The earliest signs of autism involve the absence of typical behaviorsnot the presence of atypical onesso they can be tough to spot. In some cases, the earliest symptoms of autism are even misinterpreted as signs of a good baby, since the infant may seem quiet, independent, and undemanding. However, you can catch warning signs early if you know what to look for.
Some autistic infants dont respond to cuddling, reach out to be picked up, or look at their mothers when being fed.
Fragile X Syndrome Facts
Fragile X Syndrome explained
In 1991 scientists discovered the FMR1 gene. This was then later identified as being the cause of Fragile X Syndrome. Scientists also discovered that it was the number of repeats of the so called FMR1 gene that would determine the level of impairment a person would be likely to have because of this defective gene.
Note: Please see diagrams to the right.
Diagram 1: shows the that the FMR1 gene is found at the tip of the X chromosome.
Diagram 2: shows 5 to 51 repeats and people carrying the gene in this range are considered to be normal and should usually be totally unaffected.
Diagram 3: Shows between 50 and 200 people with this level of repeats are said to be âPremutation,â carriers of the Fragile X gene. So although they do not have Fragile X Syndrome they may still be affected by some physical manifestations of carrying the Fragile X gene or they may also have some degree of mild cognitive impairment. 1 in 260 females are in this range.
Diagram 4: Shows a case of fully blown Fragile X Syndrome i.e. in excess of 200 repeats of the FMR1 gene. At this stage a vital protein for the brains development is cut off and this referred to as the gene becoming fully methylated. At this stage the brain usually is not able to develop properly without this protein and we see many impairments which is collectively known as a case of Fragile X Syndrome.
Hereditary Pattern of Fragile X Syndrome:
Diagnosing Fragile X Syndrome in Ireland
Signs Of Speech And Language Difficulties
- Speaks in an atypical tone of voice, or with an odd rhythm or pitch .
- Repeats the same words or phrases over and over, often without communicative intent.
- Responds to a question by repeating it, rather than answering it.
- Uses language incorrectly or refers to him or herself in the third person.
- Has difficulty communicating needs or desires.
- Doesnt understand simple directions, statements, or questions.
- Takes what is said too literally .
Children with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty with speech and language. Often, they start talking late.
Autism Screening Test For Adolescent
As we mentioned earlier, it is possible to diagnose ASD in children really early on. However, for some, signs might not be as clear in their early ages.
Some of the children with autism may not be diagnosed until they begin school. These are the times when the social and behavioral differences become more obvious as the child is in school.
There is no specific or single test to diagnose ASD in adolescents. Diagnosis is really based on various assessments done by specialists and professionals.
The most probable people to catch the signs are actually the parents and caregivers, as well as the primary healthcare providers like the pediatricians.
There are ways to screen your adolescent for ASD. If you feel like your teenage child is showing symptoms of ASD, there are screening tests suitable for teenagers and adolescents.
Although they are just preliminary tests to indicate whether the person has ASD or not, it may be a good place to start.
Depending on where you live, you can also consult your healthcare provider.
They can assess the situation and if they are not experienced or specialised in ASD, they may refer you to a specialist to make a final diagnosis.
Signs Of Social Difficulties
- Appears disinterested or unaware of other people or whats going on around them.
- Doesnt know how to connect with others, play, or make friends.
- Prefers not to be touched, held, or cuddled.
- Doesnt play pretend games, engage in group games, imitate others, or use toys in creative ways.
- Has trouble understanding feelings or talking about them.
- Doesnt seem to hear when others talk to them.
- Doesnt share interests or achievements with others .
Basic social interaction can be difficult for children with autism spectrum disorder. Many kids on the autism spectrum seem to prefer to live in their own world, aloof and detached from others.
Tip 4: Find Help And Support
Caring for a child with ASD can demand a lot of energy and time. There may be days when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or discouraged. Parenting isnt ever easy, and raising a child with special needs is even more challenging. In order to be the best parent you can be, its essential that you take care of yourself.
Dont try to do everything on your own. You dont have to! There are many places that families of children with ASD can turn to for advice, a helping hand, advocacy, and support:
ADS support groups Joining an ASD support group is a great way to meet other families dealing with the same challenges you are. Parents can share information, get advice, and lean on each other for emotional support. Just being around others in the same boat and sharing their experience can go a long way toward reducing the isolation many parents feel after receiving a childs diagnosis.
Respite care Every parent needs a break now and again. And for parents coping with the added stress of ASD, this is especially true. In respite care, another caregiver takes over temporarily, giving you a break for a few hours, days, or even weeks.
How To Help Your Child After An Autism Diagnosis
There are many things you can do to help a child with autism spectrum disorder. Start by ensuring their treatment plan is tailored according to their individual needs and work closely with the therapists, teachers and doctors involved to make sure you are following through with the therapy at home and school. It is also important to provide children with autism with a sense of structure in their lives. Create a detailed routine for your child and stick with it. You can also create consistency at home by reinforcing things the child may have learned in other settings and using positive reinforcement to reward good behavior.
Engage In Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied behavior analysis, or ABA, is one of the most researched and most widely accepted forms of behavior therapy for children with autism. There are many strong proponents of ABA, citing its empirical base. ABA practitioners believe that behavior is a function of a environment. By manipulating the environment around a child, we can provide the structure to help them learn and develop new skills.
Another popular therapy for social and behavioral skills is FloorTime, which involves child-directed, play-based therapy.
Repetitive Patterns Of Behaviour
Regarding restricted/repetitive patterns of behaviour, some children show a strong preference for, or aversion to, sensory stimuli. For example, a child may crave visual input by staring at a fan for a long periods of time. Or they may be overly distressed by typical household noises, haircuts or being touched.
Children often become attached to specific objects such as a block or a notebook that they must carry around with them yet show little interest in toys. They can become intensely interested in things like door knobs or toilet seats, or become obsessed with a familiar cartoon character or toy.
They may repetitively wave their arms or hands, rock or spin when excited. Some children repeat actions over and over, such as turning a light switch on and off. Some focus on small parts of an object rather than the entire object .
Others may insistently line objects up such as toys or family members shoes and become distressed if the objects are moved. They may be aggressive towards others or may injure themselves. They often crave predictability and struggle when their routines are disrupted.
Prepare For Early Intervention
While there is a critical period in child development from ages 0 to 3 years, you should look into different therapies for your child at diagnosis. There is no cure for autism, but there are therapies that can help create foundational skills for your child to build on as they grow and develop.
While early intervention is recommended, its never too late to determine if your child is eligible for certain therapies, including:
- speech therapy
Signs In Boys Vs Girls
The symptoms of autism are generally the same for both boys and girls. However, because autism is diagnosed in boys far more often than girls , classic symptoms are often described in a skewed manor.
For example, an excessive interest in trains, the wheels on trucks, or strange dinosaur trivia is often very noticeable. A girl who doesnt play with trains, trucks, or dinosaurs might display less noticeable behaviors, like arranging or dressing dolls in a particular way.
High-functioning girls also have an easier time mimicking average social behaviors. Social skills may be more innate in girls, which can make impairments less noticeable.
Differences Between Mild And Severe Symptoms
Autism disorders fall along a spectrum of mild to severe. Some children with ASD have advanced learning and problem-solving skills, while others require daily living assistance.
According to the American Psychiatric Associations diagnostic criteria, there are three levels of autism that are defined by how much support a person requires.
How Do Schools Test For Autism
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 are the two systems used to diagnose and classify children with autism spectrum disorder.
DSM-5 is used in clinical diagnoses as the primary resource, while IDEA is more regarding the eligibility decisions in terms of special education.
So IDEA is not really a diagnostic system. It is a federal legislation that is specifically designed to ensure children with special needs get appropriate education in public schools in the US.
Your child can get evaluated to obtain special education services. Parents and caregivers can request that their child be evaluated for eligibility.
Or the schools system could determine that an evaluation might be necessary. Before they conduct the evaluation, they will receive permission from the parent.
A team consisting of individuals from multiple disciplines gets together to conduct the evaluation.
This team must include a teacher or a specialist with specific knowledge in ASD. As mandated by IDEA, no single criterion can be used to determine an appropriate education program.
It is also required that the child should be assessed in terms of their hearing, communication skills, motor skills, social and emotional status, as well as vision.
This team evaluates your child to determine their eligibility for Individualized Education Program .
Prenatal Factors That May Contribute To Autism
Taking antidepressants during pregnancy, especially in the first 3 months.
Nutritional deficiencies early in pregnancy, particularly not getting enough folic acid.
The age of the mother and father
Complications at or shortly after birth, including very low birth weight and neonatal anemia
Maternal infections during pregnancy.
Exposure to chemical pollutants, such as metals and pesticides, while pregnant.
More research on these prenatal risk factors is needed, but if youre pregnant or trying to conceive, it cant hurt to take steps now to reduce your babys risk of autism.
Reducing the risk of autism: Tips for expectant mothers
Take a multivitamin. Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily helps prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Its not clear whether this will also help reduce risk of autism, but taking the vitamins cant hurt.
Ask about SSRIs. Women who are taking an SSRI should talk with a clinician about all the risks and benefits of these drugs. Untreated depression in a mother can also affect her childs well-being later on, so this is not a simple decision to make.
Practice prenatal care. Eating nutritious food, trying to avoid infections, and seeing a clinician for regular check-ups can increase the chances of giving birth to a healthy child.
Could My Child Have Autism
A basic rule for treating autism is the earlier the intervention, the better. Autism is a lifelong spectrum disorder that affects each individual differently and in varying degrees. Getting the right help at the earliest stage of life can help a child gain the skills he or she needs to be successful.
Should I Get My Child Assessed
You should get your child assessed for ASD if:
- you have concerns
- you notice any signs or symptoms
- your child has a close relative with ASD
Normally, your health care provider will test your child first. You can help your health care provider understand the unusual behaviour you see by:
- taking photographs
- maintaining logs or diaries
- capturing these behaviours on video
If there are concerns, then your health care provider should refer you to a specialist for more tests. A specialist is the best person to help diagnose your child.
Beyond Meds: Treating Add And Asd
Before or after a child gets a definitive diagnosis, behavioral therapies can help. If a child has ongoing social challenges, for example, many of the interventions are similar such as behavioral therapy to help develop skills, Bertin says.
After Clarks ADHD diagnosis, he received counseling and assistance with organizational skills. Later, when he was identified as autistic, the focus of treatment changed. Treatment now involves helping Clark intellectually grasp the gaps between him and the rest of society why hygiene matters, what kind of things he does that other people might find odd or insensitive, his mother says.
Several other interventions, including speech therapy, occupational therapy, educational interventions, and parent training, can be explored.
What Are The Next Steps
Signs of autism are usually evident by 4 years old. If youve noticed signs of autism in your child, its important to talk with their doctor to get them screened as soon as possible.
You can start by going to their pediatrician to explain your concerns. The pediatrician can give you a referral to a specialist in your area.
Specialists who can diagnose autism in children include:
- developmental pediatricians
That Said Generally Speaking Children And Adults With Autism May
Interact with others differently. They may have difficulty understanding and expressing emotions or will convey personal attachment in a different manner.
Not effectively use spoken language. Some have echolalia, a repeating of words or phrases that have been said to them. And, people with autism often have difficulty understanding the nonverbal aspect of language such as social cues, body language and vocal qualities .
Have difficulty relating to objects and events. They may have a great need for “sameness” that can make them upset if objects in their environment or time schedules change. Children with autism may not “play” with toys in the same manner as their peers and may become fixated to specific objects.
Overreact to sensory stimuli that they see, hear, touch, feel or taste; or, conversely, not react at all to various stimuli from the environment.
Have a different rate of development, especially in the areas of communication, social and cognitive skills. In contrast, motor development may occur at a typical rate. Sometimes skills will appear in children with autism at the expected rate or time and then disappear.
A Parents Guide To Autism Treatment And Support
If youve recently learned that your child has or might have autism spectrum disorder, youre probably wondering and worrying about what comes next. No parent is ever prepared to hear that a child is anything other than happy and healthy, and an ASD diagnosis can be particularly frightening. You may be unsure about how to best help your child, or confused by conflicting treatment advice. Or you may have been told that ASD is an incurable, lifelong condition, leaving you concerned that nothing you do will make a difference.
While it is true that ASD is not something a person simply grows out of, there are many treatments that can help children acquire new skills and overcome a wide variety of developmental challenges. From free government services to in-home behavioral therapy and school-based programs, assistance is available to meet your childs special needs and help them learn, grow, and thrive in life.
When youre looking after a child with ASD, its also important to take care of yourself. Being emotionally strong allows you to be the best parent you can be to your child in need. These parenting tips can help by making life with an autistic child easier.
What Medical Or Laboratory Testing Should Be Done
In the past, many children diagnosed with autism did not receive a medical evaluation and greater focus was placed on behavioral assessments. Many children receiving behavior services for autism today still have not had appropriate medical testing. Autism is a medical condition and there are many known medical causes that contribute to the brain differences that underly autism symptoms. Many of these are treatable. Medical testing that should be considered for any child with autism includes:
Does My Child Have Autism Addressing The Fear And Tackling The Misconceptions Of Asd
As parents, we know that comparing our kids to other kids even our own is something we should avoid. But its easier said than done, right? If Sammy started talking early, why isnt that true for Simon? If Aly is a social butterfly, why isnt Alex?
Especially as first-time parents, we tend to seek this peace of mind that our child is normal or OK especially in terms of development. And when our child isnt hitting milestones on the same timeline as other children, we tend to wonder if something is wrong with them.
I see it every so often, especially during those early child well checks. Without always asking in so many words, parents often want to know: Could my child have a disorder? Could my child have autism?
Addressing the Fear
Having a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder a condition that affects the nervous system and can impair communication and interaction is a common concern among parents. It often ranks high on their list of most upsetting diagnoses even though its not a terminal illness. Many parents believe ASD will result in their child being bullied or treated differently. They worry itll prevent them from living a full and meaningful life.
Many diagnoses can be made by age 2. While delayed milestones dont always point to a disorder, here are some early signs to watch for:
Tackling the Misconceptions
While ASD is fairly common , theres little understanding surrounding it. Here are some common misconceptions:
A Final Word
How Early Can I Test My Child For Autism
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends developmental and behavioral screening for all children during regular well-child visits at 9, 18, and 24 months. Screening specifically for autism begins at the 18-month visit. A diagnosis by a specialist can be considered very reliable once the child is 2 years of age.
Learn To Listen Without Your Ears
Learn to listen with your eyes. Having a delay in speech development or being nonverbal does not mean your child isnt communicating. Everything we do, even silence, is communication. The sooner you understand how your child communicates, the easier it will be to interact and respond to their language.
Speech therapy may focus on a number of aspects, including:
- nonverbal communication
- social pragmatics
Just remember: Everything your child does it trying to tell you something, so be sure to listen!