Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges.
From birth to at least 36 months of age, every child should be screened for developmental milestones during routine well visits. When such a screening with a M-CHAT—or a parent—raises concerns about a child’s development, the doctor will usually refer the child to a specialist in developmental evaluation and early intervention.
Although autism spectrum disorders are often diagnosed early, many symptoms may be overlooked, and referrals may occur at any stage of life. Typical reasons for referral include:
A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.
Evaluations have a two-pronged purpose: the first is to determine whether an individual presents with characteristic symptoms or behaviors that would meet the required diagnostic criteria for this particular diagnosis: the second is to rule out other explanations that may better account for the reported symptoms as symptoms associated with other diagnoses may mimic symptoms or behaviors related to Autism.
Components of a comprehensive evaluation include:
Evaluations are designed to provide recommendations for improving functioning, and when necessary, facilitate securing ABA therapy, speech, or securing services with the child’s school, if a diagnosis is rendered.