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How To Diagnose Autism Spectrum

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If You Find It Hard To Get Diagnosed

Autism Spectrum Disorder – Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

It’s not always easy to get an autism assessment. Waiting times can also be very long.

If you’re finding it hard to get an assessment, you could ask to speak to someone else, like another GP this is called getting a second opinion.

It may also help to speak to other people who have been in a similar situation.

Social Behavior And Social Understanding

Basic social interaction can be difficult for children with autism spectrum disorders. Symptoms may include:

  • Unusual or inappropriate body language, gestures, and facial expressions .
  • Lack of interest in other people or in sharing interests or achievements .
  • Unlikely to approach others or to pursue social interaction comes across as aloof and detached prefers to be alone.
  • Difficulty understanding other peoples feelings, reactions, and nonverbal cues.
  • Resistance to being touched.
  • Difficulty or failure to make friends with children the same age.

How Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Play

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder tend to be less spontaneous than other kids. Unlike a typical curious little kid pointing to things that catch their eye, children with ASD often appear disinterested or unaware of whats going on around them. They also show differences in the way they play. They may have trouble with functional play, or using toys that have a basic intended use, such as toy tools or cooking set. They usually dont play make-believe, engage in group games, imitate others, collaborate, or use their toys in creative ways.

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Autism Symptoms And Diagnosis In Adults

The mean age of autism diagnosis in the US and UK is 4 to 5, though later diagnoses do occur . Age at diagnosis depends upon variables such as symptom severity, socioeconomic status, and initial parental concerns or misidentification of symptoms as behavioral issues 60065-4/fulltext” rel=”nofollow”> Shattuck et al., 2009). Typically individuals with more severe symptom challenges receive an autism diagnosis early in life compared to those with subtle symptomatic differences . Those diagnosed later in life are thought to have less severe symptoms and a higher likelihood of reaching self-sufficiency and functionality . However, this successful adaptation to symptoms often masks an autism diagnosis and leaves many of these individuals to experience autism-related health issues without understanding the root cause .

What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder

How is Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosed?

There is no clear-cut cause of ASD. Some causes that are supported by research include genetic and some environmental factors. Specific genetic causes can only be identified in 10% to 20% of cases. These cases include specific genetic syndromes associated with ASD and rare changes in the genetic code.

Risk factors include older parental age, low birth weight, prematurity and maternal use of valproic acid or thalidomide during pregnancy, among others. This field of study is an active one for reasearch.

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When To Seek Medical Advice

Early intervention is very important in children with autism spectrum disorder. Services such as speech therapy and behavioral and skills training are more effective if begun when a child is young.

For this reason, it is helpful to receive a diagnosis as early as possible. However, many children remain undiagnosed until they are in school. Some people are not diagnosed until they are adults.

If you suspect someone has autism, including yourself, contact a medical professional as soon as possible.

Related Signs And Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder

While not part of autisms official diagnostic criteria, children with autism spectrum disorders often suffer from one or more of the following problems:

Sensory problems Many children with autism spectrum disorders either underreact or overreact to sensory stimuli. At times they may ignore people speaking to them, even to the point of appearing deaf. However, at other times they may be disturbed by even the softest sounds. Sudden noises such as a ringing telephone can be upsetting, and they may respond by covering their ears and making repetitive noises to drown out the offending sound. Children on the autism spectrum also tend to be highly sensitive to touch and to texture. They may cringe at a pat on the back or the feel of certain fabric against their skin.

Emotional difficulties Children with autism spectrum disorders may have difficulty regulating their emotions or expressing them appropriately. For instance, your child may start to yell, cry, or laugh hysterically for no apparent reason. When stressed, they may exhibit disruptive or even aggressive behavior . The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities also notes that kids with ASD may be unfazed by real dangers like moving vehicles or heights, yet be terrified of harmless objects such as a stuffed animal.

Savant skills in autism spectrum disorder

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Additional Therapies For Asd

Your childs treatment program may also involve a number of other components:

  • Speech-language therapy can help your child understand language and use it to express himself. At Boston Childrens, extensive services are offered through our Center for Communication Enhancement.
  • Total communication interventions through our Autism Language Program can help your child use any possible means of communication including speech, symbol systems, gestures, sign language, and innovative technologies.
  • Occupational and physical therapy may develop your childs fine and gross motor skills , and dealing with sensory inputs from her environment.

Speech Blubs App Helps Your Child Catch Up

Talking about an autism spectrum diagnosis at work

Make sure to download the Speech Blubs app: available in App Store, Google Play Store, and on our website! Work on imitation and articulation skills, build vocabulary to express needs, and converse more! Set your personalised goals now and start learning.

Speech Blubs is a learning app for everyone: If you want to work on language development or your child has a speech delay, autism, Down syndrome, hearing loss, tongue tie, cleft palate, or Apraxia kids find this app very helpful. More than 4+ million parents tried the app see what they have to say about it.

You get free access to Parents Academy and educational videos about speech development in the app. You can even talk to our speech therapist if you have concerns! If you are still unsure, watch our free webinar with speech therapist Tori or join our for parents.

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Criteria For Social Communication Disorder Diagnosis

Social communication disorder is similar to autism spectrum disorder. The main difference is that children diagnosed with SCD dont have restricted, repetitive and/or sensory behaviour.

If children have at least two restricted, repetitive and/or sensory behaviours, it could point to a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. If not, it could point to a diagnosis of SCD.

Are There Medications For Asd

Theres currently no medication for the core symptoms of ASD, although this is an area of active research at Boston Childrens. Medications are, however, often used successfully for symptoms related to ASD, such as irritability, hyperactivity or attention problems, anxiety, or seizures. Often, once these related symptoms are treated, your child can make more progress with behavioral therapies for ASD itself.

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Assessment For Autism Diagnosis

A formal diagnosis is done by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or neuropsychologist who does adult ASD assessments. A good place to start to find such a person is through your local autism society or by contacting the governing body for that profession. Most have a college or association and they may be able to provide you with some names of people in your area. You can also ask around, maybe through members of a support group. How did they get their diagnosis who did it? If there is a local university or medical teaching hospital, there may be a psychology department you can be referred to.

If a formal assessment is too expensive, contact the local autism society or services organization to see if they have someone on staff or a consulting psychologist. Some universities, hospitals or clinical centers offer assessments by supervised graduate students who need practical experience in diagnosing. If you are in on-going therapy for other issues, a therapist may suggest the possibility of ASD and be willing to give a diagnosis.

Keep in mind that there is no standardized screening tool tailored to adults that is universally endorsed. Some of the autism tests specifically designed for adults are: ADOS 2 Module 4, ADI-R, 3Di Adult, OCI-R, AFQ, SRS 2, RAADS-14, AdAS Spectrum.

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism

Autism is not a single disorder, but a spectrum of closely related disorders with a shared core of symptoms. Every individual on the autism spectrum has problems to some degree with social interaction, empathy, communication, and flexible behavior. But the level of disability and the combination of symptoms varies tremendously from person to person. In fact, two kids with the same diagnosis may look very different when it comes to their behaviors and abilities.

If youre a parent dealing with a child on the autism spectrum, you may hear many different terms including high-functioning autism, atypical autism, autism spectrum disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder. These terms can be confusing, not only because there are so many, but because doctors, therapists, and other parents may use them in dissimilar ways.

But no matter what doctors, teachers, and other specialists call the autism spectrum disorder, its your childs unique needs that are truly important. No diagnostic label can tell you exactly what challenges your child will have. Finding treatment that addresses your childs needs, rather than focusing on what to call the problem, is the most helpful thing you can do. You dont need a diagnosis to start getting help for your childs symptoms.

Whats in a name?

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Signs Of Autism In Older Children And Teens

Although autism spectrum disorder can reliably be diagnosed from the age of two or three years old, many children do not receive a diagnosis until they are older. Milder symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder who are higher functioning may not be recognized until they are in school.

Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that children will have different experiences of day-to-day living. Children who are more than five years old and on into their teenage years, who have mild symptoms and are towards the higher functioning range of the autism spectrum, may:

  • Develop a narrow range of interests or obsessions with certain topics
  • Engage in repetitive behavior such as hand flapping, twirling or snapping a rubber band
  • Not make eye contact
  • Use formal language rather than the slang of their peers
  • Place great importance on routines and rules
  • Develop strong preferences for certain foods, clothes or objects

Children who have more severe symptoms and are towards the lower functioning range of the autism spectrum may:

  • Not use speech at all
  • Become extremely distressed at changes to routine
  • Exhibit challenging behavior, such as being aggressive or banging head on wall
  • Need assistance with everyday living, such as bathing and dressing
  • Engage in repetitive behaviors, such as rocking
  • Insist on rules and routine
  • Develop rigid preferences for certain foods, clothes or objects
  • Need specialized diets

Are Siblings At Greater Risk For Autism Spectrum Disorder

The truth is that genetics do play a role in autism. When one child is diagnosed with ASD, the next child to come along has about a 20% greater risk of developing autism than normal. When the first two children in a family have both been diagnosed with ASD, the third child has about a 32% greater risk of developing ASD.

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What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Previously Called Autism And Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the following:

  • Difficulties in social communication differences, including verbal and nonverbal communication.
  • Deficits in social interactions.
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities and sensory problems

Many of those with ASD can have delayed or absence of language development, intellectual disabilities, poor motor coordination and attention weaknesses.

Is There A Test For Asd In Adults

Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders

Clinicians have developed different tests that can help diagnose ASD in adults. These include diagnostic tests such as ADOS 2 Module 4, ADI-R, and 3Di Adult.

However, it is not clear how reliable these tests are for adults. The reasons for this include:

  • Researchers who look at the reliability of ASD tests often use a small number of study participants.
  • Not many research studies on testing for adult ASD include enough participants from historically underserved groups, such as People of Color or people who are LGBTQIA+. This means the results of studies looking at ASD testing methods may not represent a true population of autistic adults.
  • Many clinicians may not be familiar with the signs of ASD in adulthood. This is especially true if the patient√Ęs symptoms are not severe or if the patient also has other conditions, for example, anxiety.

Autistic people may have of co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety or depression, than those in the general population.

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What Is The Difference Between Autism And Autism Spectrum Disorder

The term autism was changed to autism spectrum disorder in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association. ASD is now an umbrella term that covers the following conditions:

  • Autistic disorder.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified .
  • Asperger syndrome.

People with ASD have trouble with social interactions and with interpreting and using non-verbal and verbal communication in social contexts. Individuals with ASD may also have the following difficulties:

  • Inflexible interests.
  • Insistence on sameness in environment or routine.
  • Repetitive motor and sensory behaviors, like flapping arms or rocking.
  • Increased or decreased reactions to sensory stimuli.

How well someone with ASD can function in day-to-day life depends on the severity of their symptoms. Given that autism varies widely in severity and everyday impairment, the symptoms of some people arent always easily recognized.

Autism In Adults: Being Diagnosed Late In Life Is Challenging

With the adjustments in both the DSM-5 and its predecessor, the DSM-IV, to the definition of autism, more people are also being diagnosed with this developmental condition later in life.

Typically, people who are on the autism spectrum but do not receive a diagnosis until adulthood have milder symptoms. They may feel like they do not belong they may wonder why they struggle to maintain friendships or relationships or they may first receive a diagnosis of a co-occurring condition like depression or anxiety, which developed because of social isolation or communication struggles with others.

Testing children for signs of autism is a much more established practice, so many adults who are on the autism spectrum end up self-diagnosing themselves. Then, they seek help from a doctor or therapist who can provide an actual diagnosis. A medical diagnosis is a vital step to getting the right type of behavior therapy to understand and manage symptoms.

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Autism And Speech Blubs

Speech Blubs is a speech therapy app with more than 1,500 activities, face filters, voice-activated activities, and educational bonus videos.

We initially developed Speech Blubs for children with autism, Down syndrome, and apraxia of speech! The app uses video modeling, which is a proven method for engaging kids on the spectrum.

Our Emotions section, for example, was created for children with autism in mind. We know they have a hard time recognizing and expressing emotions. In this section, they learn about emotions while practicing speech.

Work With A Professional

How Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosed?

Several websites offer self-diagnosis tests or quizzes for autism, but these are not definitive or even approved by medical practitioners who understand autism spectrum disorder. Reading information about autism, and the experiences of people who were diagnosed as adults, can be more helpful. This information can guide you into a discussion with your doctor, so you can get therapeutic support.

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Causes And Risk Factors

While scientists dont know the exact causes of ASD, research suggests that genes can act together with influences from the environment to affect development in ways that lead to ASD. Although scientists are still trying to understand why some people develop ASD and others dont, some risk factors include:

  • Having a sibling with ASD
  • Having older parents
  • Having certain genetic conditionspeople with conditions such as Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and Rett syndrome are more likely than others to have ASD
  • Very low birth weight

Getting The Most Accurate Diagnosis

Early diagnosis is important to help families, caregivers, and schools understand the needs of a child with autism spectrum disorder. The child and adolescent psychologists and psychiatrists at the Child Study Center, part of Hassenfeld Childrens Hospital at NYU Langone, offer expert diagnostic evaluations for children as young as 12 months old through adulthood.

A comprehensive evaluation for autism spectrum disorder for young children includes several visits with our clinical and developmental child psychologists. These experts specialize in evaluating toddlers and young children suspected of having autism spectrum disorder or other communication disorders.

Evaluations are tailored to the needs of each family and include a thorough review of the childs behavior and development. Our experts gain information about the childs behavior and developmental milestones through direct observation, interviews with parents, speech and language evaluations, and cognitive assessments. The evaluation is play-based and tests the childs understanding of words, as well as social communication skills, such as imitation, reciprocity, and initiation.

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Diagnosis In Older Children And Adolescents

ASD symptoms in older children and adolescents who attend school are often first recognized by parents and teachers and then evaluated by the schools special education team. The schools team may perform an initial evaluation and then recommend these children visit their primary health care doctor or doctors who specialize in ASD for additional testing.

Parents may talk with these specialists about their childs social difficulties including problems with subtle communication. These subtle communication issues may include problems understanding tone of voice, facial expressions, or body language. Older children and adolescents may have trouble understanding figures of speech, humor, or sarcasm. Parents may also find that their child has trouble forming friendships with peers.

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