Diagnosis

Your child's doctor will look for signs of developmental delays at regular checkups. If your child shows any symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, you'll likely be referred to a specialist who treats children with autism spectrum disorder, such as a child psychiatrist or psychologist, pediatric neurologist, or developmental pediatrician, for an evaluation.

Because autism spectrum disorder varies widely in symptoms and severity, making a diagnosis may be difficult. There isn't a specific medical test to determine the disorder. Instead, a specialist may:

  • Observe your child and ask how your child's social interactions, communication skills and behavior have developed and changed over time
  • Give your child tests covering hearing, speech, language, developmental level, and social and behavioral issues
  • Present structured social and communication interactions to your child and score the performance
  • Use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association
  • Include other specialists in determining a diagnosis
  • Recommend genetic testing to identify whether your child has a genetic disorder such as Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome