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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How is autism and asperger sydrome diagnosed?

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    Autism Victoria, trading as Amaze, is a member-based not-for-profit organisation and is the peak body for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) in the state of Victoria. View Profile

    Most of the time, a child will be referred to a paediatrician and they will make the diagnosis.

    A psychiatrist can make the diagnosis, although this is less common.

    Allied health professionals like speech pathologists and psychologists can administer tests for ASDs and these often assist the paediatrician in making the diagnosis. Sometimes a speech pathologist will work together with a psychologist in what is known as a “multidisciplinary team” to make a diagnosis.

    There are a number of diagnositic tools that frequently form part of a diagnostic process, including the ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule), CARS (Childhood Autism Rating Scale), PEP-3 (Psychoeducational Profile, 3rd Ed), and ADI-R (Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised). In addition, a developmental history will be taken and an observation made of the child.

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    Mandy Case (Mabarrack)

    Occupational Therapist (OT)

    Developmental Play Therapy is an occupational therapy practice for children 0-6 years who have a developmental delay or autism spectrum disorder. Mandy takes a play-based ... View Profile

    Unfortunately there is no blood test or other definitive test that will indicate a child has an autism spectrum disorder. There are several behavioural traits however that, when they are present together, lead to a diagnosis. The assessment tools used all consist of questions to ask the caregiver about what they have observed and know about the child. These include items from the social development area, the communication area and the behavioural area, particularly around use of rituals and routines.

    There are early signs that indicate a child is at risk of autism or asperger syndrome. Low eye contact, not bringing things to show you or share with you, Not pointing or following your point, not making sounds or words to communicate something to you, and not responding when you call their name or request them to do something, and low or no imitation or imaginative play.

    There are lots of other signs as well, such as preoccupation with objects or parts of objects, not using toys in the way they were designed, flapping hands or other stereotypies, and lots of sensory difficulties.

    Children with AS are harder to spot, they dont have all the signs of autism, and they might be precocious talkers and readers. They usually however have some abiding interests that are unusual, such as vacuum cleaners! Because they have more subtle or confusing (to us) behaviour, they may not get the right diagnosis until they are school age.

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