What is the Diagnosis of Autism?

Updated at: Dec 15, 2012
What is the Diagnosis of Autism?

Autism Diagnosis and Prognosis- Diagnosis of Autism can be complicated and difficult as there is no standardised diagnostic screen or schedule available of it.

Dr Poonam Sachdev
Other DiseasesWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Sep 26, 2011

Symptoms of autism usually begin in early childhood (by 12-18 months), but most children may not be diagnosed with this behavioural developmental disorder, until they start preschool or school. If your child’s pediatrician suspects there are signs of autism or developmental delay at regular checkups he may refer you to a specialist in treating children with autism. Diagnosis of autism can be difficult as the severity and signs and symptoms vary.

There is no single test to confirm the disorder. The autism specialist will observe your child and take a detailed history of your child's social skills, language development and skills and behaviour. Your child will be assessed by a number of developmental tests covering speech, language and psychological issues.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criterion is most often used to diagnose autism. To confirm the diagnosis your child must have six or more of the symptoms mentioned in DSM and two or more of those symptoms must be in social skills category.


Social Skills

  • Has difficulty with non-verbal communication such as through hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions.
  • Has difficulty in making friends with peers and prefers to play alone.
  • Doesn't want to share experiences or emotions with you or other people, such as telling about achievements or talking about other interests.
  • Does not seem to care about others feelings.


Communication Skills

  • Has difficulty with language  such as starts talking after 2 years of age, has other developmental delays as well by 30 months.
  • Makes no effort to communicate his needs or feeling with gestures or miming.
  • Does not start a conversation or cannot keep one going.
  • May say sentences or words with no meaning or that are out of context in conversations with others.
  • May repeat the sentence or word he has heard, but may not understand the meaning and how to use them.
  • Doesn't play make-believe or doesn't try to mimic behaviour of adults when playing
  • Behavioural skills
  • Develops interests in objects or topics with an abnormal in intensity or focus.
  • Does repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning, banging or hand-flapping.
  • Does not like changes in routines or rituals and becomes disturbed at the slightest change in them.


Diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome (AS)


Diagnosis of AS one of the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) can be difficult and complicated as there is no standardised diagnostic screen or schedule for it.

Currently several different screening instruments are used and each one has a different criteria. Hence depending on the screening tool that is used the same child can have different diagnoses. The core group of behaviors abnormalities which may make the doctor suspect the possibility of a diagnosis of AS include:


  • Abnormal or failure to make eye contact.
  • Stays aloof  (like does not make friends, prefers to play alone).
  • Failure to respond when called by name.
  • Difficulty with non-verbal communication such as hand gestures.
  • Lack of interactive play (like prefers to play alone,Doesn't play make-believe).
  • Has difficulty in making friend with peers.


AS is diagnosed in two-stages. In the first step your child’s doctor screens for development. And if there is delayed development and your doctor suspects AS he will refer you to a specialist for evaluation to either confirm or rule out AS.

Most children with autism show symptoms by the age of 18 months, but the diagnosis is often not made until preschool or school years by the time when delays in language development and problem of social interactions are obvious. Early diagnosis preferably before the child turns 3 — helps to improve the prognosis.


Read more articles on Autism




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