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How Do Doctors Diagnose Autism In Children?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a blanket term to describe a whole host of social, communication, and behavioral issues that someone might suffer from. It is most commonly referred to as autism, and it’s a spectrum because some children may have severe symptoms and challenges, while others have very minor ones. 

As a parent, you always need to watch your kids for any signs of possible health conditions they may exhibit. In a lot of young children, autism is a common thing to look for. Naturally, you might suspect your child has autism, but you want a proper diagnosis from a medical professional before you go out and buy autism stickers, books, and anything else that you might feel you need in order to help both you and your child. Unlike a lot of conditions, a doctor can’t run a test that tells you if your child has autism or not. So, how do they come up with their diagnosis?

Tracking milestones

When you have a baby, you are expected to take them to their pediatrician when they’re 18 and 24-months old. This gives the doctor a chance to see how they’re developing. As a result, they are likely to look at certain milestones in a baby – such as whether or not they smiled by 6 months. There are certain milestones that children are expected to reach, and if they haven’t reached them it could be a sign that they are on the autism spectrum. If you are taking your child to a doctor when they’re a bit older, and are concerned they may have autism, you’ll need to provide the doctor with information on any baby milestones if they don’t have the records. 

diagnose autism
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

Checking behavioral traits

Another thing the doctor looks for is the behavioral traits of your child. They’ll ask if they do anything that’s repetitive or unusual. They may ask if your child avoids eye contact, if they struggle to interact with others, and so on. Effectively, they’re looking for common signs that your child is on the spectrum – which will typically involve behaviors relating to having difficulty with interactions, emotions, communication, etc. 

Specialist help

Sometimes, your doctor may call on the help of a psychiatrist to help with the diagnosis. They can provide more extensive tests to see your child’s behavioral traits, checking if they align with what’s typical of someone with autism. 

In fact, if your doctor doesn’t refer your child for specialist testing, you should do so yourself. A lot of doctors will misdiagnose children with autism from a very young age – or they make the mistake of not diagnosing them. You don’t need to be a medical malpractice attorney to know that this is incredibly damaging for the child. They could live without safeguards in place to help them cope with their condition, or they could believe they suffer from something when they don’t. Getting specialist help lets you see a second opinion on the matter, offering a more accurate diagnosis. 

There you have it; this is how most doctors try to diagnose autism in young children. There are no blood tests or specific medical tests, it’s merely about witnessing their behavior and how they act/react, as well as looking at their development from childhood. As mentioned above, if you are concerned that your child has autism, always get a specialist opinion for the most accuracy. 

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