Early Intervention Is Key
There is currently not a cure for ASD, but the CDC says that support and intervention at an early age is critical to reduce the impact of development delays and to provide skills to help navigate social, emotional, and school settings. That makes more inclusive diagnostic criteria even more essential.
It is important that families receive support early in their childs development to give them the best opportunity to reach their potential, , senior author of the study, and professor in the division of psychological medicine and clinical neurosciences at Cardiff University, tells Verywell via email. All too often, families experience barriers such as long waiting lists for diagnostic services that mean the vital opportunity for early support is missed.
In the U.S., individual states, counties and school districts offer early intervention services as well as special education services up until the age of 22.
- Early intervention services are available for ages 0-3 and can be requested through a states early intervention services system. Caregivers do not need a doctor referral to request an evaluation.
- Special education services are available for ages 3-22 and are requested through the childs designated school district. A doctor referral is not needed to request an evaluation.
Diagnosis Of Autism In Adults
It is not unusual for autistic people to have reached adulthood without a diagnosis.
Sometimes people will read some information or see something about autism that makes them think That sounds like me. They may then choose to talk to a health professional for a diagnosis, or they may not.
You may choose to seek an autism diagnosis if:
- you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition or intellectual disability during childhood or adolescence, but think that you may have autism
- you have struggled with feeling socially isolated and different
- your child or other family member has been diagnosed with autism and some of the characteristics of autism sound familiar to you.
If you wish to seek an assessment for autism, you can:
- talk to a psychologist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism
- talk to your GP
- seek a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism in adults from your GP.
A psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism will ask you about your childhood, and experiences at school and as an adult. They may also do some psychological or psychiatric testing.
A speech pathologist may also be consulted to assess your social communication skills.
All of this information will be used to help make a diagnosis.
Adhd Vs Autism: Misdiagnosis Comorbidity Similarities
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and autism spectrum disorder are both issues that begin in early childhood and affect the way a childs brain develops. Both can be difficult to diagnose, and they share some of the same characteristics. A closer look reveals that each of these neurodevelopmental conditions is distinct. But is there a link between the two? Is it possible to have both ADHD and autism at the same time? Learn more about these two disorders and their connection.
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How Common Is Autism
Autism affects children at an early age, and some parents notice the signs before a child reaches school age. However, children that enter school with an undiagnosed ASD may start to experience challenges that may be noticed by parents and teachers. The CDCs most recent data on the prevalence of autism comes from 2016 data from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network that found 1 in 54 children has autism spectrum disorder . Like ADHD, autism is more common in boys than in girls, with the disorder affecting boys 11 times more frequently. There has been a steady increase in reported autism rates, but the cause is unknown and may have to do with diagnosing practices and awareness.
Getting An Autism Diagnosis
Once you have undergone all these screenings and tests, a qualified professional will be able to make a diagnosis. Usually, these child professionals use the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, along with test results, to make the diagnosis.
To be sure that this diagnosis is correct, you need to ensure that the specialist knows your childs behavior well. Ideally, your child will have gone through rigorous testing with them over time so that they know how your child has developed.
When you receive an autism diagnosis from a specialist, this an official medical diagnosis. Note that the medical diagnosis of autism is different from an educational determination, which happens when a group of school professionals decides whether or not a child should be enrolled in special education.
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Diagnosis Of Other Co
Sometimes autism comes with other conditions. These are called co-occurring conditions.
If children have signs or characteristics that meet the criteria for other conditions, theyll be diagnosed as having two or more conditions for example, autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or intellectual disability.
Is Autism Being Overdiagnosed
- May 10, 2021
The rate of autism diagnoses has risen in recent years. Some people question whether autism is overdiagnosed in the United States.
The higher rate of diagnoses is partially due to broader diagnostic criteria and an increased awareness of the disorder. If this is the case, it means that the disorder isnt being overdiagnosed in 2021. Rather, in the past, many cases of autism went undiagnosed.
The increased rates of autism mean that more children are getting access to treatment services earlier. Since early intervention is critical to successful treatment, some say that possible overdiagnosis is not necessarily a bad thing.
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How Often Is Autism Misdiagnosed
When you begin to notice your child is not following the same developmental trajectory as his/her peers, it can be an unsettling time full of unanswered questions. You are eager to find ways to help your child catch up, ease his/her symptoms, and make sure he/she has the accommodations necessary to succeed in school.
Before a plan of action can be put into place, a diagnosis is needed. While each child with an autism spectrum disorder will present differently, having a diagnosis is an important foundation for obtaining help for your child.
An Answer To The Psychologists Who Suggest It Is
Late at night, when Im alone, I sometimes ponder what it means to be autistic. Do I experience sounds and smells differently from an allistic person? Scientific studies suggest I do. If that is the case, whose perception is correct mine, theirs, or both? At one time, doctors assumed the allistic view of the world was the correct one, and autistic perspectives were wrong or delusional.
That question lies at the heart of what autism is.
As an autistic person I believe my experience of the world is just as valid as anyone elses. When I associate colors with sounds, or see details others cant, my experience of those things is richer than most, and that is a gift. When I look at a machine and see a problem that is inscrutable to an allistic, that too is a gift. When I look at a person and fail to discern their wish for my sympathy or attention, that can be a disability.
For me, that is the mix of ability and disability that is autism. My different perceptions have allowed me to solve problems that could not be cracked by allistic thinkers. Not because I am smarter, but because I think differently and work with subtly different sensory inputs. 99% of the problems of the world may not require a mind like mine, but 1% do. Perhaps thats why there is a sprinkling of us in the population.
There are those who argue that those diagnostic spectrums are too broad too.
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How Can You Distinguish Autism From Other Conditions
Autism symptoms can mimic or overlaps with several other conditions making it difficult for them to distinguish from one another. Doctors use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition to diagnose autism. In addition to the DSM-5, doctors will likely test your child for a variety of other conditions including fragile X syndrome, sensory processing disorder, anxiety disorders, hearing or vision impairments, and genetic diseases.
- Congenital rubella syndrome
- Tuberous sclerosis
- Williams syndrome
While receiving an accurate autism diagnosis is important, many children receive multiple diagnoses. Children with autism often also have anxiety disorders, depression, sensory processing disorder, allergies and immune system deficiencies or dysregulation, chronic constipation or diarrhea, low IQ, low muscle tone, high or low pain thresholds, PICA or other eating disorders, seizures, sleep problems, hearing or visual impairments, or savant syndrome.
Be Consistent And Supportive
Autism doesnt go away or get better. It represents your teens:
Its crucial to be there for your teen as they experience not only the typical struggles of being a teen but also the added pressure to conform to neurotypical standards.
Consistency in maintaining a positive, accepting environment can be an enormous influence on the direction of their lives well past the teen years.
Helping your teen learn certain life skills or behaviors they may have difficulty mastering can also be a form of support. To build skills in these areas, you can:
- See a psychologist or psychiatrist who can help your teen work through personal challenges. They can also prescribe medications for anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder , or other conditions that may affect your teens sense of personal fulfillment or be perceived as disruptive.
- See a speech pathologist to help with any communication challenges, or do speech therapy.
- See a behavioral specialist to help with routines, activities, or habits that may be disruptive to activities your teen wants to do.
- See a dietitian who may be able to help optimize your teens diet or supplement intake to reduce their experience of challenging behaviors or emotions.
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Restrictive / Repetitive Behaviors May Include:
- Repeating certain behaviors or having unusual behaviors. For example, repeating words or phrases, a behavior called echolalia
- Having a lasting intense interest in certain topics, such as numbers, details, or facts
- Having overly focused interests, such as with moving objects or parts of objects
- Getting upset by slight changes in a routine
- Being more or less sensitive than other people to sensory input, such as light, noise, clothing, or temperature
People with ASD may also experience sleep problems and irritability. Although people with ASD experience many challenges, they may also have many strengths, including:
- Being able to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time
- Being strong visual and auditory learners
- Excelling in math, science, music, or art
How Often Is Autism Diagnosed
Researchers estimate that as many as 10% of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder do not meet the criteria. The study analyzed results from the 2011 Survey of Pathways to Diagnosis and Service, which involved approximately 1,600 children between 6 and 17 years of age who had received an autism diagnosis. The researchers found that about 13% of diagnosed children later fell off the spectrum. Many parents reported that changes in diagnostic criteria and other advances in research caused their children to shed their diagnosis.
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Each Autistic Child Is
TI=Totally InterestingSM=Sometimes Mysterious
Autistic spectrum disorders refer to a set of disorders characterized by neurodevelopmental anomalies leading to altered social interactions and repetitive behavior. Autism is one such disorder and is the result of several genetic and environmental factors.
The symptoms are often apparent during infancy or before the age of 30 months. These include language delay, less attention to social stimuli, repetitive movements, etc.
Although the precise etiology remains unclear, several factors have been associated with the risk for developing autism. One of the mysteries underlying autism is the strong gender bias and the fact that males are four times more likely to be affected.
There is no clear understanding for such a bias, but it is well implicated that there are surely certain molecular mechanisms or factors that increase the risk for boys and/or protect girls from developing autism. The theories and explanations for the same have been provided below.
How Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Treated
ASD is most often a life-long condition. Both children and adults with autism benefit from behavioral interventions or therapies that can teach new skills to address the core deficits of autism and to reduce the core symptoms. Every child and adult with autism is unique. For this reason, the treatment plan is individualized to meet specific needs. It is best to begin interventions as soon as possible, so the benefits of therapy can continue on throughout the course of life.
Many people with ASD often have additional medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal and feeding issues, seizures and sleep disturbances. Treatment can involve behavioral therapy, medications or both.
Early intensive behavioral treatments involves the entire family and possibly a team of professionals. As your child ages and develops, treatment may be modified to cater to their specific needs.
During adolescence, children benefit from transition services that promote skills of independence essential in adulthood. The focus at that point is on employment opportunities and job skill training.
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Reasons For The Diagnosis Delay
Experts can shed light on why an autism diagnosis is sometimes long in coming. In many cases, children ultimately diagnosed with ASD had concerns raised about their development but did not undergo the developmental evaluation necessary to start the intervention process in a timely manner. Less than half had an evaluation before age 3 and almost 40% did not have one until after age 4.
Sometimes children are initially diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and/or sensory processing issues but not an autism spectrum disorder. About 30-40% of children with ASD also have ADHD, and once the ADHD diagnosis is made, doctors often stop looking further and miss the autism. Being diagnosed initially with ADHD made children 30 times more likely not to get their ASD diagnosis until after the age of 6.
Finally, recent research suggests that some children may not develop autism traits until age 5 or later. Others may have mild symptoms at age 3 but don’t meet the diagnosis criteria until they are older.
Some People Abuse Self
Some non-autistic people may claim that they are, and then go on to spread misinformation about autism, and/or speak over actual autistic people. Their claim of being autistic gives their words a certain validity when talking about autism, which can make it extremely difficult to convince others that they are really spreading misinformation.
This is harmful, and it needs to be acknowledged and addressed.However, the conclusion that self-diagnosis is the problem in this scenario is false.
Self-diagnosis isnt the reason why this happens. And not accepting self-diagnosis doesnt stop this from happening either. Non-autistic people abusing self-diagnosis doesnt mean self-diagnosis is bad. It means abusing self-diagnosis is bad.
I have witnessed self-diagnosed autistic people harm autistic people.I have witnessed professionally diagnosed autistic people harm autistic people.I have witnessed non-autistic people harm autistic people.
Anyone, autistic or not, professionally diagnosed or not, needs to get well educated about autism before they start spreading any sort of autism information. Nobody, autistic or not, professionally diagnosed or not, should harm autistic people.
The problem of people spreading misinformation isnt created by self-diagnosis.The problem of people speaking for and over autistic people isnt created by self-diagnosis.
These problems are created by people who decide to do bad things.We should fight against that instead of falsely blaming self-diagnosis.
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How Is Asd Diagnosed
ASD symptoms can vary greatly from person to person depending on the severity of the disorder. Symptoms may even go unrecognized for young children who have mild ASD or less debilitating handicaps.
Autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed by clinicians based on symptoms, signs, and testing according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V, a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association used to diagnose mental disorders. Children should be screened for developmental delays during periodic checkups and specifically for autism at 18- and 24-month well-child visits.
Very early indicators that require evaluation by an expert include:
- no babbling or pointing by age 1
- no single words by age 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
- no response to name
- excessive lining up of toys or objects
- no smiling or social responsiveness
Later indicators include:
- impaired ability to make friends with peers
- impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
- absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
- repetitive or unusual use of language
- abnormally intense or focused interest
- preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
- inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals
Social Communication / Interaction Behaviors May Include:
- Making little or inconsistent eye contact
- Tending not to look at or listen to people
- Rarely sharing enjoyment of objects or activities by pointing or showing things to others
- Failing to, or being slow to, respond to someone calling their name or to other verbal attempts to gain attention
- Having difficulties with the back and forth of conversation
- Often talking at length about a favorite subject without noticing that others are not interested or without giving others a chance to respond
- Having facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match what is being said
- Having an unusual tone of voice that may sound sing-song or flat and robot-like
- Having trouble understanding another persons point of view or being unable to predict or understand other peoples actions
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