Diagnosis of Autism

Because autism cannot be diagnosed with a medical test, screening and diagnosis involves interviews, observation and evaluations. It is vital that as the parent you come prepared when discussing your concerns with your child’s doctors. I suggest you create a timeline of behaviors with dates and take that with you to the visit. Note when the behavior began and how long it lasted, because some behaviors can disappear and be replaced by others. A timeline accomplishes several things:

  • It allows you to accurately answer the doctor’s questions about when each behavior started
  • It can serve as a framework for you to build upon as time goes on
  • It will make intakes easier for you in the event that your child is referred for multiple evaluations with specialists, speech therapists, early intervention, and other providers where you will be asked these same questions over and over again.
  • It saves you from having to remember dates and details during an office visit where you may be feeling overwhelmed or may be distracted if your child becomes impatient or uncooperative.

Pediatricians and nurses always have the best interests of your child at heart, but remember that an office visit only provides a brief snapshot of your child. Sometimes, it can be difficult for them to decipher whether what they observe is typical. Your child may appear shy or anxious in the office setting, and may not demonstrate the behaviors that concern you in front of the doctor. Doctors and nurses rely heavily upon you to report what you observe at home. No one knows your child as well as you do. Trust your instincts and always advocate strongly for your child. You do know best.