Understanding Autism Spectrum Diagnosis

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term for a group of developmental disabilities which can cause significant challenges in behavior, communication, and other social interactions.  In the past, you have heard terms such as “Asperger’s Syndrome” or “Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).”  However, the behaviors that fell under these labels are now simply classified as being part of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

As the word “spectrum” implies, ASD encompasses a wide range of levels of disability, from low-functioning to high-functioning.  Such wide ranges can often make proper Autism Spectrum diagnosis difficult, so we offer diagnosis as part of our overall Autism Spectrum Disorder services.  We utilize licensed professionals to ensure each person is properly evaluated and diagnosed.

The Autism Spectrum Diagnosis Process

Perhaps the most important thing to know about diagnosing ASD is that diagnosis will take more than one session.  Whenever possible, we bring in family members, friends, teachers, and other people who have known the individual and can speak to their behaviors over time. Diagnosis can potentially be a lengthy process to ensure accurate evaluation.

Children as young as 1-2 years of age can potentially begin the diagnosis process.  The CDC estimates that in the United States, roughly 1 in 68 children has autism spectrum disorder, though many are undiagnosed.

The criteria for an ASD diagnosis have been laid out in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), and include:

  • Compulsive behavior
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inappropriate social interactions
  • Poor eye contact
  • Repetitive actions, including self-harming actions
  • Lack of empathy
  • High sensitivity to sound
  • Constant imitation of others’ behaviors

Part of the reason Autism Spectrum diagnoses can take some time is that symptoms can vary greatly from person to person; some can even be contradictory.  For example, a child with ASD could have delayed communication development with limited vocabulary, or a highly-developed vocabulary but lack skills to express themselves to others.

Elwyn Is Here to Help Individuals with an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis

If someone you care for exhibits these signs, have them evaluated. We have many services and resources for individuals with an autism spectrum diagnosis and their family members.  The evaluation is a vital first step in getting valuable assistance and guidance.  Please contact us at Elwyn to learn more.

Contact Information:

Donna Toll

Director of Elwyn’s Davidson School