What Tests Are Done to Diagnose Autism?

Reviewed on 11/13/2020
The exact cause of autism is unclear.
The exact cause of autism is unclear.

There is no single test that can be used to diagnose autism; doctors may use several different approaches to decide. When it comes to autism testing, language deficits, social deficits, and repetitive behaviors are tested:

  • Evaluations help to rule out hearing, speech, and language problems. These evaluations are very important because autism has a big effect on overall communication skills.
  • Checklists and surveys from parents, school staff, and other doctors who have observed the person in various situations are of great help. The questionnaires ask about the child’s behaviors, relationships with others, body use, verbal communication, and play habits.
  • A doctor diagnoses autism only if the information gathered meets the standard criteria for the disorder. Along with using the checklists and questionnaires above, a doctor gathers this information by interviewing and observing the child.
  • Additional medical tests might be used to get more information. These tests don’t diagnose autism. They can help rule out or discover other conditions that may be causing symptoms (or making them worse).

Several tools may be used to screen for an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis, including:

  • Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised with Follow-Up is a brief checklist of yes/no items for early detection among children 16-30 months of age.
  • Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised is a semistructured interview with the child’s parents used by a trained specialist to help make a definitive diagnosis.
  • Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule–Generic is a structured interview with directed activities also used by a trained specialist to help make a definitive diagnosis.
  • Childhood Autism Rating Scale observes a child’s behavior and uses a 15-point scale to evaluate a child’s relationship with people, body use, and adaptation to change, listening response, and verbal communication.
  • Think Asperger’s test is a brief screening tool in a portable mobile app format that aids in the informal detection of autism for parents, teachers, and medical professionals.

As per the latest research, magnetic resonance imaging and few blood tests may help a doctor diagnose a patient with autism; however, the research is still in clinical trials.

What is autism?

Autism is a brain disorder that makes it difficult for an individual to interact with others or communicate well. It usually shows up during a child’s first three years of life, and it can be seen in some babies; however, rarely, it may not be diagnosed until a person is an adult.

Causes: The exact cause of autism is unclear. However, the child has increased chances of autism if:

  • The parents are above 35 years of age when they had a child.
  • The mother was on anti-epilepsy drugs such as valproate when she was pregnant.
  • There is a first-degree relative who suffers from autism.

Symptoms:

  • Problems with social interactions: A child might want to play alone instead of with other kids.
  • Trouble communicating: A child might seem odd, difficult, or rude to some people because they act differently or have problems maintaining eye contact.
  • Repeating patterns of behaviors, interests, and activities: There might be a movement, such as flapping their hands or rocking, and they might focus on following a routine. They might have an unusual attachment to objects.
  • Sensitivity to sensory input: A child might not want to be touched or cuddled.
  • Other signs and symptoms: A child with autism can and do give affection. But because their brains process things in a different way, they have different ways of giving and accepting love. 

Treatment: The goal is to reduce symptoms and improve their learning and development.

  • Applied behavior analysis: This is usually followed in schools and clinics. It helps a child learn about positive behaviors and reduce the negative ones. 
  • Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based Approach: It’s meant to support emotional and intellectual growth by helping them learn skills around communication and emotions. This kind of treatment involves a parent or caretaker getting on the floor with the child to play and do the activities they like.
  • Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-handicapped Children: This treatment uses visual cues such as picture cards to help a child learn everyday skills such as getting dressed.
  • The Picture Exchange Communication System: It uses symbols instead of picture cards. A child learns to ask questions and communicate through special symbols.
  • Occupational therapy: This treatment helps a child learn life skills such as feeding and dressing themselves, bathing, and understanding how to relate to other people. The skills they learn are meant to help them live as independently as they can.
  • Sensory integration therapy: If a child is easily upset by things such as bright lights, certain sounds, or the feeling of being touched, this therapy can help them learn to deal with that kind of sensory information.
  • Medications: There is currently no medication to treat it. But some medicines can help with related symptoms such as depression, seizures, insomnia, and trouble focusing. But they will not help with autism symptoms. Studies have shown that medication is the most effective when it’s combined with behavioral therapies.

SLIDESHOW

Parenting: Learn to Be a Better Parent See Slideshow

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

References
Autism spectrum disorder: Evaluation and diagnosis: (https://www.uptodate.com/contents/autism-spectrum-disorder-evaluation-and-diagnosis)

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors