When correctly diagnosing our children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it is justifiable to want to work with the most qualified experts who can give us clear answers. The process of an autism diagnosis can be stressful and frustrating if you are sent to the wrong places, but luckily we’ve created a simple guide to getting your child the care they need.
In this piece on who can diagnose autism, we will cover the following:
- Who is qualified to diagnose autism spectrum disorder?
- Signs of ASD in children
- When is it time to get an autism diagnosis?
- How to get an autism diagnosis
- The best treatment for autism
There is no substitute for high-quality autism care; the first step is working with providers who give you an accurate autism spectrum diagnosis. We hope this information helps.
Who is Qualified to Diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a clinical diagnosis, meaning that a medical professional must diagnose according to the child’s development and behavioral history.
Additionally, there is no lab testing for autism, as spectrum disorders have a wide range of overt and subtle symptoms. This means it is increasingly important to work with doctors and clinicians who have experience diagnosing autism.
We recommend working with some of the following medical professionals to get an autism diagnosis:
- Child psychologists
- Developmental pediatricians
- Child psychiatrists
- Pediatric neurologists
These are not the only medical professionals who can diagnose autism. These specialists often have the experience and network to give you a precise diagnosis and provide follow-up resources to help your family.
Signs of ASD in Children
It can be extremely stressful even to consider pursuing an autism diagnosis for your child. Knowing the signs of autism in a child will help you determine whether or not to do so. The signs of autism in children include:
1. Avoiding eye contact
2. Not responding to their name
3. Being shy or withdrawn in social situations
4. Harsh responses to sensory stimuli
5. Not smiling back at you
6. Not talking often or being selectively mute
7. Rocking back and forth
8. Hitting or biting themselves or others
These signs are only some of the early symptoms of a child with autism. It is important to document when and how these actions occur so that a medical professional can learn the most about your child as quickly as possible.
When is it Time to Get an Autism Diagnosis?
Though there are many signs of autism in children, one of them alone does not mean you should immediately be putting your child through diagnostic tests for ASD diagnosis. Many of the signs and symptoms are only alarming at certain frequencies or if they are presenting at certain ages.
Additionally, no child is alike – some signs of autism may just be a child’s development taking more time – or your child may have autism without showing many of the most common signs.
With all that in mind, autism can be reliably diagnosed by two years old. It is possible to be diagnosed at 18 months or younger, but many people are not diagnosed with autism until much later in life.
How to Get an Autism Diagnosis
Autism cannot be lab diagnosed, and there is no single medical test to determine an autism diagnosis. This means there are several ways to start an autism assessment process – and they all involve a medical professional.
Often, your child’s pediatrician will perform basic screenings and then will refer you to any of the following:
- A specialized autism clinic
- Pediatric Psychologist
- Developmental specialists
- A Speech-Language Therapist
- Early Intervention State Program
When pursuing an autism evaluation for your child. We encourage parents or caretakers to be the most prominent advocates possible for their children. The more involved you are in scheduling and information sharing, the easier it will be to get the help your child needs.
The Best Treatment for Autism
It can be life-changing in many ways if your child is diagnosed with autism. While it is a daunting and stressful diagnosis, getting the proper treatment for your child early can empower them to reach their full potential.
The modern gold standard for autism treatment is Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). ABA therapy is an evidence-based treatment that takes data about your child’s specific behaviors and environments and uses positive reinforcement within multiple techniques to create tangible change.
ABA therapy operates with the understanding that people with autism can work to hone life skills and social skills to become the best versions of themselves. The best ABA clinics and therapists will create a unique framework for your child that can be worked on by parents, teachers, and family members to give your child a greater opportunity to succeed long-term.
Ally Pediatric takes an integrated approach to ABA therapy by incorporating three main techniques.
Natural Environment Teaching (NET)
NET is a principle of the ABA strategy that focuses on naturalistic learning through play or education. This method utilizes multiple environments to cater to the child’s comfort levels and productivity.
Pivotal Response Treatment
Pivotal Response Treatment is a play-based therapy technique. The goal is to improve behaviors in language, communication, and life skills.
Discrete Trial Training
DTT is adult-directed instruction that uses mass trials and a chosen reinforcer to teach new skills. DTT uses arbitrary reinforcement and is often done at a table. This method is best for targeting discrete skills with a clear beginning and end.
Ally Pediatric Therapy is Arizona’s Leading Autism Center
At Ally Pediatric Therapy, our goal is To collaborate with families to achieve meaningful outcomes together. Early diagnosis and treatment of autism are highly effective. Our team of ABA therapists and licensed speech and feeding clinicians will use modern treatments to support your child in navigating environments.
We know how stressful it can be to raise any child, and adding an autism diagnosis to the mix can seem daunting. We work to be there for you and your family every step of the way. If you want an autism evaluation performed for your child or would like to enroll them in ABA, speech, or feeding therapy, please contact us today. We’d love to help.