Your child's health care provider will look for developmental problems at regular checkups. Mention any concerns you have during your appointment. If your child shows any signs of autism spectrum disorder, you'll likely be referred to a specialist who treats children with the disorder for an evaluation.
Bring a family member or friend with you to the appointment, if possible, to help you remember information and for emotional support.
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
Before your child's appointment, make a list of:
- Any medications, including vitamins, herbs and over-the-counter medicines that your child is taking, and their dosages.
- Any concerns you have about your child's development and behavior.
- When your child began talking and reaching developmental milestones. If your child has siblings, also share information about when they reached their milestones.
- A description of how your child plays and interacts with other children, siblings and parents.
- Questions to ask your child's doctor to make the most of your time.
In addition, it may be helpful to bring:
- Notes of any observations from other adults and caregivers, such as babysitters, relatives and teachers. If your child has been evaluated by other health care professionals or an early intervention or school program, bring this assessment.
- A record of developmental milestones for your child, such as a baby book or baby calendar, if you have one.
- A video of your child's unusual behaviors or movements, if you have one.
Questions to ask your child's doctor may include:
- Why do you think my child does (or doesn't) have autism spectrum disorder?
- Is there a way to confirm the diagnosis?
- If my child does have autism spectrum disorder, is there a way to tell how severe it is?
- What changes can I expect to see in my child over time?
- What kind of special therapies or care do children with autism spectrum disorder need?
- How much and what kinds of regular medical care will my child need?
- What kind of support is available to families of children with autism spectrum disorder?
- How can I learn more about autism spectrum disorder?
Don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your child's doctor
Your child's doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Be ready to answer them to reserve time to go over any points you want to focus on. Your doctor may ask:
- What specific behaviors prompted your visit today?
- When did you first notice these signs in your child? Have others noticed signs?
- Have these behaviors been continuous or occasional?
- Does your child have any other symptoms that might seem unrelated to autism spectrum disorder, such as stomach problems?
- Does anything seem to improve your child's symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen symptoms?
- When did your child first crawl? Walk? Say his or her first word?
- What are some of your child's favorite activities?
- How does your child interact with you, siblings and other children? Does your child show interest in others, make eye contact, smile or want to play with others?
- Does your child have a family history of autism spectrum disorder, language delay, Rett syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or anxiety or other mood disorders?
- What is your child's education plan? What services does he or she receive through school?
July 15, 2017
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html. Accessed April 4, 2017.
- Uno Y, et al. Early exposure to the combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and thimerosal-containing vaccines and risk of autism spectrum disorder. Vaccine. 2015;33:2511.
- Taylor LE, et al. Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies. Vaccine. 2014;32:3623.
- Weissman L, et al. Autism spectrum disorder in children and adolescents: Overview of management. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2017.
- Autism spectrum disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed April 4, 2017.
- Weissman L, et al. Autism spectrum disorder in children and adolescents: Complementary and alternative therapies. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2017.
- Augustyn M. Autism spectrum disorder: Terminology, epidemiology, and pathogenesis. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2017.
- Bridgemohan C. Autism spectrum disorder: Surveillance and screening in primary care. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 4, 2017.
- Levy SE, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine treatments for children with autism spectrum disorder. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2015;24:117.
- Brondino N, et al. Complementary and alternative therapies for autism spectrum disorder. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/258589. Accessed April 4, 2017.
- Volkmar F, et al. Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2014;53:237.
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/autism/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed April 4, 2017.
- American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement: Sensory integration therapies for children with developmental and behavioral disorders. Pediatrics. 2012;129:1186.
- James S, et al. Chelation for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD010766.pub2/abstract;jsessionid=9467860F2028507DFC5B69615F622F78.f04t02. Accessed April 4, 2017.
- Van Schalkwyk GI, et al. Autism spectrum disorders: Challenges and opportunities for transition to adulthood. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2017;26:329.
- Autism. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed April 4, 2017.
- Autism: Beware of potentially dangerous therapies and products. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm394757.htm?source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery. Accessed May 19, 2017.
- Drutz JE. Autism spectrum disorder and chronic disease: No evidence for vaccines or thimerosal as a contributing factor. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 19, 2017.
- Weissman L, et al. Autism spectrum disorder in children and adolescents: Behavioral and educational interventions. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 19, 2017.
- Huebner AR (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 7, 2017.