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Obtaining Proper Diagnosis

Obtaining Proper Diagnosis

Obtaining a diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a complex task that is achieved in collaboration with the child, the parents, and the healthcare professionals. Sadly, there is no sole diagnostic test that can identify childhood autism. It includes different screening processes, medical tests, and evaluations that seem to never end and can easily take a toll on the child and the child’s parents and caregivers.

Diagnosing autism early is important. Parents and caregivers alike should keep in mind that symptoms of autism are very hard to identify since they develop gradually and could evidently be seen only when the child reaches school age. Observation of the parents is an essential part of diagnosing autism. In all tests, these observations will be repeatedly studied and asked from the parents.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are 2 steps in obtaining an autism diagnosis. These are the developmental screening process and the comprehensive diagnostic evaluation

Developmental Screening

Developmental screening begins when the child is brought to the pediatrician for a well-baby check-up. It is recommended that developmental screenings be done when the child is 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months old, and screenings specifically for ASD should be done when the child is 18 and 24 months old.

The developmental screening process involves answering questionnaires or filling up checklists that serve as a guide for pediatricians. These checklists are compared to the normal developmental milestones of a child. Developmental milestones are a set of functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children can do at a certain age range (Boyse, K., 2010). Any deviations or delays in the manifestation of these milestones can be an early sign of autism.

Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation

Comprehensive diagnostic evaluation is done when the results of developmental screening show cause for concern such as delays in speech and communication skills or an alteration in social development is present. In this step, a hearing and vision screening, genetic testing, neurological testing, and another medical testing may be included and performed by a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals. As the results of these different tests arrive, your pediatrician may refer you to a specialist that is more equipped to handle ASD like a pediatric neurologist, psychologist, psychiatrists and different types of certified therapists appropriate for the area of concern so that your child can get the utmost care he or she deserves.

It is important to bear in mind that Autism Spectrum Disorders are still ongoing studies. Diagnostic tools and treatments are still being discovered and proven. One clinician may recommend a test while another may suggest a different type of diagnostic procedure. It is best to find a clinician who can refer you to other specialists if he finds the need for it.

Remember that a formal diagnosis is essential for a parent to be able to start helping his or her child to improve their developmental skills and behaviors and understand autism.


Boyse, K. (2010, February). Developmental Milestones. Retrieved May 11, 2011, from http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/devmile.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. cdc.gov.  Screening and DevelopmentRetrieved May 9, 2011from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/screening.html

American Academy of Pediatrics. Aap.org. Autism. Retrieved May 11, 2011, from http://www.aap.org/healthtopics/autism.cfm

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Parent Waitlist Program


November 02, 2023 | 12pm-1pm PDT

Journey to Independence

Community-based program designed to support families on waitlist

Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
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