Getting An Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis
The road to an ASD diagnosis can be difficult and time-consuming. In fact, it is often two to three years after the first symptoms of ASD are noticed before an official diagnosis is made. This is due in large part to concerns about labeling or incorrectly diagnosing the child. However, an ASD diagnosis can also be delayed if the doctor doesnt take a parents concerns seriously or if the family isnt referred to health care professionals who specialize in developmental disorders.
If youre worried that your child has ASD, its important to seek out a clinical diagnosis. But dont wait for that diagnosis to get your child into treatment. Early intervention during the preschool years will improve your childs chances for overcoming their developmental delays. So look into treatment options and try not to worry if youre still waiting on a definitive diagnosis. Putting a potential label on your kids problem is far less important than treating the symptoms.
What Does An Autism Diagnosis Mean For My Child
An autism diagnosis can result in some beneficial effects, but also comes with associated risks, disadvantages, and contraindications. Once your child is diagnosed with autism, you can expect your doctor to devise a specific treatment plan, comprised of therapy and/or medication to help your child function more easily in daily life. You can also seek specific guidance and support for your child to thrive at school. Despite these benefits, a diagnosis of autism also come with the risk of social stigmatization for the child. There is also a range of physical and mental-health conditions that frequently accompany autism including but not limited to: gastrointestinal problems, epilepsy, ADHD, anxiety, and depression.
Limited Or No Response To Their Name
At 6 months , most infants show an awareness of their own names, especially when its spoken by their mother.
Autistic infants show a developmental difference: By 9 months, many babies who later develop ASD dont orient to their own names. say this usually appears as a pattern of nonresponse, rather than a single instance.
What To Do If There Are Concerns
If you are concerned about your childs development, talk to your doctor or pediatrician. There is no medical test for autism it is through interviews, observation, and evaluations. Some examples of these are:
- Speech evaluations these check your childs ability to understand and use spoken speech in an age-appropriate and meaningful manner
- Occupational therapy evaluations
- Hearing tests
- Autism-specific questionnaires, such as the , for parents to fill out about their childs developmental milestones, behaviors, sensitivities, challenges, and strengths
- Other tests, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale and the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers , which examine observations of childrens behaviors based on norms
If you are placed on a waiting list for an assessment, there is a lot you can do to support your childs development while you wait. Have a look at this past blog post for some ideas.
Parents need to trust their instincts and not be afraid to ask questions or seek help. Early intervention improves long term outcomes for children with autism spectrum disorder. There is a great deal of information out there to help parents recognize the . Another great resource for early signs of autism in toddlers is the Autism Navigator website.
Discussing concerns with your doctor can help you feel less overwhelmed and develop a plan for what the next steps are. This is a process that takes time and you will need professional support and guidance.
Social Communication And Interaction Skills
Social communication and interaction skills can be challenging for people with ASD.
Examples of social communication and social interaction characteristics related to ASD can include:
- Avoids or does not keep eye contact
- Does not respond to name by 9 months of age
- Does not show facial expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised by 9 months of age
- Does not play simple interactive games like pat-a-cake by 12 months of age
- Uses few or no gestures by 12 months of age
- Does not share interests with others
- Does not point or look at what you point to by 18 months of age
- Does not notice when others are hurt or sad by 24 months of age
- Does not pretend in play
- Shows little interest in peers
- Has trouble understanding other peoples feelings or talking about own feelings at 36 months of age or older
- Does not play games with turn taking by 60 months of age
Early Signs Of Autism In Babies
A lifelong condition, autism spectrum disorder can be diagnosed before the child turns two. Early diagnosis can make an enormous difference in their quality of life later on.
There are certain early signs that can be observed in a newborn if your child is on the spectrum. You can detect the really early in their life.
Early Signs Of Autism Tutorial Kennedy Krieger Institute
This free 9-minute video tutorial on ASD behavioural signs in one-year-olds. The tutorial consists of six video clips comparing toddlers who show no signs of ASD to toddlers who show early signs of ASD.
Each video is presented with voice-over explaining how the specific behaviours exhibited by the child, as they occur on screen, are either indicative of ASD or typical child development.
How To Use Visual Timetables For Autistic Children
Visual timetables can help autistic children better understand what is about to happen and reduce anxiety around change of routine. They can be used to explain any routine or activity helping your child prepare for the event.
Did you know we offer fully-funded autism assessments? You can find out more .
Behaviour Signs Of Autism In Older Children And Teenagers
Repetitive behaviour and interests Older autistic children and teenagers might:
- have unusual interests or obsessions for example, they might collect sticks or memorise football statistics but not really be interested in the game
- have compulsive behaviour for example, they might line things up or need to close all the doors in the house
- have an unusual attachment to objects for example, they might carry toys around, or collect unusual items like chip packets or shoelaces
- be easily upset by change and like to follow routines for example, they might like to sit in the same seat for every meal or have a special order for getting ready in the morning
- repeat body movements or have unusual body movements, like hand-flapping or rocking
- make repetitive noises for example, grunts, throat-clearing or squealing.
Sensory sensitivitiesOlder autistic children and teenagers might:
- be sensitive to sensory experiences for example, they might be easily upset by certain sounds or uncomfortable clothes, or eat only foods with a certain texture
- seek sensory stimulation for example, they might like deep pressure, seek vibrating objects like washing machines, or flutter fingers to the sides of their eyes to watch the light flicker
- be less responsive to pain than other children.
What Is A Visual Timetable
A visual timetable is a schedule that uses objects, pictures or symbols to help children see what is going to happen over the course of a morning, afternoon, day or even a single activity. Visual timetables can help children who need to have clear structure and expectations. Many autistic children find change difficult and a visual timetable is great way of showing them what will happen next.
Whats The Outlook For Autistic Children
Autism is a spectrum of neurological differences that develop during childhood.
Although there is not a cure for autism, many in the autism community believe these neurological differences dont need to be cured. Theyre just a different way of communicating and interacting with the world.
Decades of research have shown that early intervention can have a powerful effect on health outcomes for autistic children. When therapies begin in early childhood, autistic children benefit from the incredible adaptability of their growing brain and nervous system.
Some signs of autism can appear during infancy, such as:
- limited eye contact
How To Introduce Change
Its better not to wait until there is a crisis to introduce this card. Plan a change and introduce the oops card then. If the child finds it very difficult, still do it, but keep the change short and then return to the original plan. Do this several times and hopefully your child will begin to understand that changes sometimes happen.
- Top tip: After a while some children will try to change the pictures to things they want to do. This is a great sign that they understand the timetable, but try not to let them take charge of all the plans!
Paul McIlroy, Associate Director of Clinical Services at Caudwell Children said:
Visual timetables are used to support communication with children and young people with autism. At Caudwell Children we provide visual timetables for children during their autism assessment. This helps them understand the process of the assessment and what will be happening during the day.
Visual timetables are great as they can be unique to every child and can take a number of forms. They help provide a consistent plan of the day ahead or stages of a process and help reduce unpredictability for the child or young person.
If you liked this post, check out our , and where we share similar content. For more resources, check out our section.
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.
Behavioural Signs In Infants Between 6 And 12 Months Can Predict Asd
A 2005 Canadian study published in the International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, with over 200 participants was the first to pinpoint specific behavioural signs in infants as young as 12 months that can predict, with remarkable accuracy, whether a child will develop autism.
Autism is one of the most prevalent disorders today, and while a bio marker was finally found last year to help with early diagnosis, its normally only 80% effective, and so far mostly being used on higher risk infants. Also it is found using an MRI, and wait times can be long. Most doctors instead must rely on parent observations, observing the child themselves, and using standardized tools like the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers . However these tools are made for children who are 18 months and older, a long time especially when early detection and intervention can help with many of the frustrations that develop from communication problems.
Because of the research done, a scale was developed to help doctors with early assessment in infants as young as 6 months . The Autism Observation Scale for Infants has been a fantastic new tool to help parents and doctors get an early diagnosis.
Why Do Some Young People Get A Late Diagnosis
It is common for a young person to get a late diagnosis if they are high functioning or academically able. This also occurs more in girls than in boys, as girls are generally more adept at copying neuro-typical behaviours, including verbal and non-verbal communication in order to mask their autism.
Late diagnosis can happen because there is some ambiguity which makes it difficult to be sure a young person has autism, or because other conditions have presented as being their primary need e.g. challenging behaviour or ADHD. Typically, children are also often able to cope in a primary school environment but find the increasing demand of secondary school very stressful, leading to their difficulties becoming more apparent.
New Symptoms That May Appear During Adolescence
Autistic children can often find adolescence very difficult. Although they have the same hormones as all other teenagers, they dont naturally develop complex relationships and arent able to interpret or engage in the more types of relationships which develop as children get older. They can be prone to isolation and low moods, which can appear very intense and be difficult to read.
How Should I Tell My Child They Have Autism
Video: To the moms of children with autism: ‘I hope you realize the impact you have’
1) Integrate autism into everyday conversation
If your child is diagnosed young, say as a toddler or preschooler, the experts recommend integrating autism into everyday conversation right from the start. Smith says parents can do this when the child is receiving autism interventions, attending social events for children with autism or watching TV or reading books that feature autistic characters. Its as simple as saying, Were going to the doctor today because you have autism, or Julia from Sesame Street is autistic like you.
Rather than avoiding the A-word, its just a matter of fact in family life, Smith says. There often isnt a need to be direct about telling them because theyll grow up knowing that word, and that its something characteristic of them.
Some families prefer talking about the differences in how their child thinks and perceives things before introducing the word autism, says Dundon, and thats totally fine. She recommends mentioning differences or autism in the context of a childs strength and challengesor by highlighting similarities and differences to others. For instance, Your autistic brain is really sensitive to those noises, or, Your brain works a bit differently than your brothers because you are autistic.
2) Set the stage for a positive conversation
3) Focus on strengths, challenges and differences
4) Let them know theres help and community
Support Available For Autistic Children When Becoming Teenagers
Some local authorities have charities operating within them, so search the website of your local author to see what support is available. Some offer buddying volunteers for young people with autism who would otherwise have no peer friendships, while others provide support groups for parents and advice on how to navigate the Education, Health and Care Plan process.
For more details on Priory Education and Children’s Services, please call 0118 970 8068 or
Early Signs Of Autism In Preschool Kids
You may notice differences in your childs behaviors and communication right before they go to school. Some of these signs may mean that your kid is at risk for autism spectrum disorder. Here are some of the signs listed by CDC:
- Speaking less than 15 words
- Seeming confused by the function of everyday items
- Not responding to their name when called
- Not walking
- Has repetitive behaviors like rocking back and forth
Most girls show symptoms in infancy or early childhood. But they may not be recognized.
Some studies suggest that certain symptoms are seen more commonly in boys than in girls. Repetitive behaviors, for instance, may appear more often in boys. They are easier to spot.
In addition, girls deal with ASD differently than boys. They may hide their symptoms or spend more energy on adapting to social norms.
They are more able to form friendships. This may cause ASD to not be determined early on.
Rarely Responds To Their Name Of Other Bids
Babies are tuned to listen to your voice when you call their name, they respond by looking toward you.
Babies readily respond to other social bids, like:
- come here with your arms reaching out
- wave bye-bye as youre leaving
- touch your nose
- or look where youre pointing
Some children with autism dont respond by looking where youre pointing but instead look at your hand.
If your baby rarely responds to their name or other bids for social interaction, this can be an early sign of autism.
Loss Of Language Or Social Skills
Children with autism may seem unwilling to speak or verbalize even though they used to do so. For example, a baby who used to babble or make nonsense noises might stop as he gets older. Children with autism may also withdraw from social situations even though they used to seem comfortable playing with or around other kids, according to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Search For The Hidden Meaning
Many of your childs behaviors may not make obvious sensethey dont seem to serve any clear purpose. But your child doesnt smear poop all over the walls on purpose to make you cry or get angry. Assume for a minute that crazy behaviors like this do make some sense, that your child is sending you coded messages about things that are important to himand your job is to break the code so you can read the messages.
The first thing to do is to start recording these outbursts and stunts the way an anthropologist might record the actions of a newly discovered native people. Suspend your judgments, what you think you know. What time do these events most often happen? Does the same thing often happen first? Perhaps hes more likely to have outbursts on pizza day in the school cafeteria, or after youve just turned on the lights because its getting dark outside. Maybe it only happens when you turn on the fluorescent light in the kitchen. Many behaviors are set off or triggered by an event. Just as you might suddenly feel hungry as you walk past a bakery, there are setting events in your childs lifethe things that set off difficult behaviors. You can use a diary or log to try to identify these setting events for some of your childs most difficult behaviors.
Instead of looking at the behavior as bad, look for how the context, or environment, is out of synch with your child, and explore what you can do about it.
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.
What Can Mimic Autism
Developmental delays such as language, speech, or hearing problems can often be mistaken for autism. There are also a number of specific disorders that are characterized by similar behavioral symptoms to autism. According to the Autism Research Institute, Williams Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, and Landau-Kleffner Syndrome, are all closely related to autism.
Development Of Infants With Early Signs Of Autism
While your baby is growing up, you may wonder if they are developing as they should. There are certain developmental milestones children hit as they grow up.
It is important to keep an eye out for these so that you can see if your child is behind on their development.
- smile at people
- try to look at their parents
- turn their head towards sound
If you notice that your baby is not engaging in such activities, you may want to get your child tested for ASD.
The 5 Easy Questions That Can Help Detect Autism
A baby brings hopes for a perfect life filled with baseball games, piano recitals, and tiny voices learning to say, “Mommy,” “Daddy, and, I love you.”
Sometimes, though, those voices never come.
A child may appear to be developing normally but when it comes time for the child to speak, parents are met with silence or meaningless babble.
It might not even occur to a parent that his or her child isn’t speaking at an appropriate age level until the child spends time with peers at daycare, preschool, or even kindergarten and isn’t able to communicate.
According to the Autism Society, one in 54 children has a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD. About one in six children have some kind of speech delay or impairment.
Oftentimes, children aren’t diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder until age four or five, but the child may begin showing signs by the time he or she is two.
That can be scary news for a parent to receive, but it certainly doesn’t mean anything is “wrong” with the child. It only means the parents will need to adjust their plans and expectations to include early intervention.
Think about that. There could be at least two to three years between showing signs of autism and receiving a diagnosis. That’s two to three years of therapy, at an age where early intervention can make a huge difference, that’s lost forever.
Perhaps most importantly, it’s helped countless parents hear the tiny voices of their children finally say, “I love you, Mommy.”
A Lack Of Interest In Pretend Play
For kids with autism, pretend skills may be absent or lacking. dont use objects for pretend playstuff like picking up a sponge and using it as a pretend phone, she says. Play-feeding a doll or pretending the couch is a truck or train are other examples. If this kind of pretend play hasnt started by 18 months, thats a warning sign, notes the CDC.
Inflexibility Signs Of Autism In Children
Autistic children are often restricted in their behaviors and movements. They are inflexible, and even obsessive in terms of their activities, behaviors and interests.
- Inflexibility, to an extent, can be an indication of ASD. The following are the signs of inflexibility
- Strict routines – insisting on taking the same route to school every day
- Limited topic of interest – memorizing the train schedules
- Repeating the same actions – , rocking back and forth; these are also known as stimming, self stimulatory behavior
- Unusual attachments to objects – obsessively lining the trucks or arranging them in a certain order
- Difficulty in adapting to change – getting upset when their routines are interrupted
Other Issues Associated With Autism
Older autistic children and teenagers often have other issues as well. These might include:
- difficulty with sleep for example, they might have difficulty falling asleep, or might regularly wake up or have broken sleep patterns
- or feeling overwhelmed for example, they might feel anxious about going to new places, or being in social situations
- older autistic children and teenagers who are aware of their differences are also often aware of how others see them and can feel like outsiders. These feelings of low mood might be intensified by changing hormone levels during puberty
- aggressive behaviour they often have sensory sensitivities that can lead to sudden aggressive behaviour. They might have difficulty understanding whats going on around them, which can lead to frustration building up
- eating disorders for example, they might have difficulty moving to secondary school and might develop an eating disorder to cope with feelings of anxiety
- difficulty with organisational skills they might find the increase in complexity at secondary school hard to manage
- school refusal they might feel overwhelmed or confused at school. They might also be vulnerable to at school
- gender dysphoria autistic children and teenagers can be more likely than other children and teenagers to identify as a gender thats different from the sex they were assigned at birth. If they feel distressed about this its called gender dysphoria.