Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is defined as a neurodevelopmental disorder that involves decreased social skills and various communication problems.
Symptoms of ASD normally occur during the first three years of life. Cause of ASD has yet not been found by the researchers. They believe several factors can be involved in causing ASD in a child.
Research has revealed that ASD runs in family. If one child in a family is suffering from this neurodevelopmental disorder, then other siblings are also prone to develop ASD. Relatives of children with autism can also show some symptoms of ASD. The cause of ASD is still under investigation. CT scan of brain of autistic children revealed some anomalies of the brain’s structure and chemical function. Multiple environmental factors are being investigated for their contribution in etiology of ASD. Diagnosis can be made by the doctor with thorough evaluation of a child before starting the treatment plan. Medication might help to treat aggressiveness, hyper focus, depression and obsessive behavior.
Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be difficult because there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder. Doctors look at the child’s developmental history and behavior to make a diagnosis.
ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable . However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. Some people are not diagnosed until they are adolescents or adults. This delay means that children with ASD might not get the early help they need.
Early signs of ASD can include, but are not limited to
CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program provides free resources to help families monitor developmental milestones and recognize signs of developmental concerns, including ASD.
As children with ASD become adolescents and young adults, they might have difficulties developing and maintaining friendships, communicating with peers and adults, or understanding what behaviors are expected in school or on the job. They may also come to the attention of healthcare providers because they have co-occurring conditions such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety or depression, or conduct disorder.
Monitoring, screening, evaluating, and diagnosing children with ASD as early as possible is important to make sure children receive the services and supports they need to reach their full potential . There are several steps in this process.
Developmental monitoring observes how your child grows and changes over time and whether your child meets the typical developmental milestones in playing, learning, speaking, behaving, and moving. Parents, grandparents, early childhood providers, and other caregivers can participate in developmental monitoring. You can use a brief checklist of milestones to see how your child is developing. If you notice that your child is not meeting milestones, talk with your doctor or nurse about your concerns.
When you take your child to a well visit, your doctor or nurse will also do developmental monitoring. The doctor or nurse might ask you questions about your child’s development or will talk and play with your child to see if he or she is developing and meeting milestones. A missed milestone could be a sign of a problem, so the doctor or another specialist will take a closer look by using a more thorough test or exam.
Your childcare provider can also be a valuable source of information on how your child develops. More information on developmental monitoring for early childhood educators.
Developmental screening takes a closer look at how your child is developing. Your child will get a brief test, or you will complete a questionnaire about your child. The tools used for developmental and behavioral screening are formal questionnaires or checklists based on research that ask questions about a child’s development, including language, movement, thinking, behavior, and emotions. Developmental screening can be done by a doctor or nurse, but also by other professionals in healthcare, community, or school settings.
Developmental screening is more formal than developmental monitoring and normally done less often than developmental monitoring. Your child should be screened if you or your doctor have a concern. However, developmental screening is a regular part of some of the well-child visits for all children even if there is not a known concern.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends developmental and behavioral screening for all children during regular well-child visits at these ages:
In addition, AAP recommends that all children be screened specifically for ASD during regular well-child doctor visits at:
If your child is at higher risk for developmental problems due to preterm birth, low birthweight, environmental risks like lead exposure, or other factors, your healthcare provider may also discuss additional screening. If a child has an existing long-lasting health problem or a diagnosed condition, the child should have developmental monitoring and screening in all areas of development, just like those without special healthcare needs.
If your child’s healthcare provider does not periodically check your child with a developmental screening test, you can ask that it be done.
A brief test using a screening tool does not provide a diagnosis, but it indicates if a child is on the right development track or if a specialist should take a closer look. If the screening tool identifies an area of concern, a formal developmental evaluation may be needed. This formal evaluation is a more in-depth look at a child’s development, usually done by a trained specialist, such as a developmental pediatrician, child psychologist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, or other specialist. The specialist may observe the child, give the child a structured test, ask the parents or caregivers questions, or ask them to fill out questionnaires. The results of this formal evaluation determines whether a child needs special treatments or early intervention services or both.
Page last reviewed: March 13, 2020Content source: National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionhomeASD Homepage
The information contained on this website is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the process from a purely educational perspective, as it pertains to special education for students with disabilities, parents of students with disabilities and attorneys who are new to special education practice.
This website or links to articles is not intended to and should not be substituted for legal advice of any sort and should not be relied upon as legal advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon with the expectation of an automatic or even an improved chance of a prevailing party decision in a special education due process hearing, nor does it promise or warrant any particular result if the educational tips contained herein are followed whether they are used as written or used as modified by you or an attorney .
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