How is Autism Diagnosed?
Autism spectrum disorder, commonly referred to as ‘autism’, is the name given to a broad range of developmental conditions caused by differences in the brain. People with autism may face challenges when dealing with social situations, repetitive behaviours, verbal or nonverbal communication.
If an adult or child you know shows signs of autism, it is recommended that they are tested to get a proper diagnosis. Undiagnosed autism can have an impact on a person’s mental health, social and professional life, education, personal relationships, and development. Reaching an autism diagnosis means the person will be able to access autism support services and receive the tools they need to live a more fulfilling life.
At National PBS we conduct an initial interview with the client to gain insight on their developmental history, family relationships and personal interactions, school or work situation, and make an observation of their general demeanour and engagement levels. These evaluations help to determine whether autism is a potential diagnosis. If there is a chance of an autism diagnosis, we will conduct a formal assessment. This will generally involve multiple appointments so that we have the time to develop a better understanding of the client, as well as develop a positive rapport. This can help put clients at ease when conducting the complete autism assessment.
What Are Symptoms of Autism
It is important to recognise that many of the following symptoms are not exclusive to people with autism. The criteria for an autism diagnosis can vary from test to test, but generally a patient will need persistent difficulties in both ‘social communication’ and ‘restricted/repetitive behaviour’ classification areas to be diagnosed with autism. The prevalence of these difficulties, plus whether or not it is a high functioning autism symptom, is what will determine where a patient sits on the autism spectrum.
Social communication difficulties
Social communication difficulties vary among ages, but will generally have an impact on how the person communicates their own thoughts and feelings, as well as how they understand and interact with others.
Some of these difficulties include:
- Being slow to respond or failing to respond to their name
- Difficulty engaging in conversation
- Obsessively talking about an interest without allowing others to respond
- Facial expressions or physical movements that do not match with what is being said
- Being unable to understand other people’s actions and reactions
- Trouble understanding another person’s point of view
- Taking things too literally
- Not communicating through words
Restricted and repetitive behaviour
- Repeating certain words and phrases
- Overly focused interests
- Repetitive moving of objects
- Increased or decreased sensitivity to touch, light, sound or temperature compared to other people
- Discomfort surrounding a change in routine
- Rocking, spinning, flapping and other repetitive physical movements