Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder that affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills. Common features of ASD include impaired social interactions, impaired verbal and nonverbal communication, problems processing information from the senses and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior.
Failure to engage in typical babbling or pointing in infancy.
Failure to make eye contact beginning in infancy.
Failure to respond to one’s own name.
Loss of previously acquired language or social skills, usually during the second year of life.
Unusual responses to sensory input.Unusual movements such as rocking, twirling or flapping arms.
Difficulty playing with or interacting with peers.
Difficulty talking about feelings.
Difficulty understanding tone of voice, body language and gestures.
Obsessive interest in a particular topic.
ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, and it is thought to have a strong genetic component. However, medical tests such as blood tests or brain scans cannot currently be used to diagnose ASD. Instead, healthcare providers diagnose the condition based on the patient’s history and behaviors.
Various experts can make this diagnosis, including some psychologists, pediatricians and neurologists. Psychologists (including neuropsychologists, who specialize in the relationship between the brain and human cognitive, behavioral and emotional functioning) are often involved in the diagnostic process. It is important that the expert making the diagnosis has extensive experience working with the wide range of symptoms associated with ASD.
Observations of the patient’s behavior.
Tests of cognitive and language abilities.
Medical tests to rule out other conditions.
Interviews with parents, teachers or other adults who can answer questions about the patient’s social, emotional and behavioral development.