How is Autism Diagnosed?
Autism is diagnosed based on clinical observation and testing by a professional using one or more standardized tests. Professionals most likely to diagnose autism are psychologists, psychiatrists, developmental pediatricians, and school psychologists. Some of the screenings and tests which may be used in the diagnostic process are: CARS (Childhood Autism Rating Scale), Autism Diagnostic Checklist Form E-2, CHAT (Checklist for Autism in Toddlers), M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers), Pervasive Developmental Disorders Screening Test -2, ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale), and ADI-R (Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised).
In addition, parental interview and medical history are taken into consideration.
The current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) has specific criterion required to make a diagnosis of autism, or a Pervasive Development Disorder.
There are five disorders under the PDD umbrella which include Autism, Aspergers, Rhett’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and PDD-NOS (not otherwise specified).
The diagnosis of autism may be made when a specified number of characteristics listed in the DSM-IV are present.
FOR 299.00 AUTISTIC DISORDER**
*Source: The American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Washington D.C., American Psychiatric Association, 1994.
A. A total of at least six items from (1), (2), and (3), with at least two from (1), and one each from (2) and (3):
1. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
* marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction.
* failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
* a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest)
* lack of social or emotional reciprocity
2. Qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the following:
* delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime)
* in individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
* stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language
* lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level
3. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
* encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
* apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
* stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole body movements)
* persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
B. Delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior to age 3 years: (1) social interaction, (2) language as used in social communication, or (3) symbolic or imaginative play.
C. The disturbance is not better accounted for by Rett’s Disorder or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.
For information on the diagnostic criterion for Aspergers, Rhett’s, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and PDD-NOS.