Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be difficult to diagnose. Unlike other conditions, there is no medical test, like a blood test, to confirm the disorder. Instead, the specialists at Solstice Behavioral Health & Consulting will consider the child’s developmental history and early signs and symptoms to make a diagnosis. It is imperative that your child receive help as early in their development as possible.
How do you diagnose ASD?
With most children, the initial evaluation will be conducted over a few visits where a specialist will evaluate your child’s responses and behavior to different scenarios.
Some early signs of ASD that we look for include:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Little interest in caretakers or other children
- Delayed speech and communication
- Upset by even minor changes in routine
- Excessive interest in an item
- Using objects in a repetitive manner
- Repetitive speech that is not directed to another person
How old does my child have to be to be diagnosed with ASD?
ASD can be detected as early as 18 months old. However, many children don’t receive a final diagnosis until they are much older and a specialist has been able to monitor their progress. Some people are not diagnosed until they are teens or adults. Our team wants to make sure that children who need the assistance of a dedicated support team receive help as early as possible. It is our experience that early intervention can help a child learn to process their environment and better understand their own thoughts and feelings by using the lessons that are taught in our office and reinforced by their family at home.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends developmental and behavioral screening for all children at these ages:
- 9 months
- 18 months
- 30 months
- Specific ASD screenings at 18 & 24 months
How do you diagnose ASD?
This process involves several steps, including:
- Developmental Monitoring
- Developmental Screening
- Comprehensive Developmental Evaluation
In this stage, we observe your child and track developmental milestones. At this stage, it’s “all hands on deck”. Our center will monitor the child’s interactions and behavior during their visit, but it is important that parents and caregivers also monitor the child’s progress and share it with our team so we have a better picture of how your child is progressing and where he/she may need some focused attention.
Developmental Screening (Questionnaires)
We will have you complete a questionnaire regarding your child, and/or we will provide the child with a brief test. These formal questionnaires ask about emotional, behavioral, cognitive, linguistic, and movement-based development. The questionnaires are based on research that compares your child to children of the same age.
Comprehensive Developmental Evaluation
The first two steps (Monitoring and Screening) are not diagnostic tools, but important indicators for the specialist to review in order to prepare the proper evaluation. The evaluation is an in-depth inspection of your child’s development performed by the specialists at our office. During this process, your child may be observed and/or given structured tasks and caregivers may be asked questions or given additional questionnaires to fill out.
A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that are on the spectrum and may have previously been diagnosed separately. For instance, autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and others.
With over 20 years of experience in the field of autism, Dr. Solandy Forte and our team of experts can help you and your child navigate the ASD diagnosis. You will receive an individualized treatment plan that is centered around achieving the best outcome possible for both the child and your family. Contact us and find out more about how Solstice Behavioral Health & Consulting changing the lives of children and families in Fairfield County and surrounding communities.