Methods to diagnose autism in children
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is revisiting the existing definition of autism spectrum disorder in a manner that is likely to have a bearing on its diagnostic characteristics. The revised diagnostic criteria may be implemented some time in 2013, in the shape of DSM V.
Doctors rely on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) for Mental Disorders to ascertain if a person is suffering from autism. The existing version of this manual is the DSM-IV.The APA advocates that children should be examined for autism during regular visits to doctors. This enables doctors to ascertain whether or not a child has autism or any similar condition such as language disorders or avoidant personality disorder.
For a parent to detect symptoms of autism in the child, there is available the autism rating scale , which is a list of informative questions pertaining to the kid’s responses. ‘. It is best to consult a specialized professional, such as neurologist, developmental pediatrician child psychiatrist or speech therapist, rather than relying on a general practitioner.The specialists undertake a battery of tests and screening procedures to arrive at a conclusive diagnosis. Broadly, these screening criteria can be categorized as follows:
The guidelines employed by a doctor to assess the specific kind of developmental delay a child has comprise case studies, among other things. The medical history interview entails asking general questions from parents or other care givers about whether a child makes the gestures that are natural at various stages of growth, such as responding to his name, following the parents with his gaze, gesticulating to be picked up etc.
Behavioral screening also entails measuring the child against the diagnostic guidelines for autism advocated by the American Association of Childhood and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP).Various behavioral questionnaires may be used that are specifically designed for children below the age of three.
Clinical screening is done to observe the child’s behavior in different settings. Parents may be required to chronicle and interpret the child’s responses in varied settings.In addition, developmental and intelligence tests are conducted as the AACAP recommends that an assessment be made about whether or not a child’s developmental delays impact his cognitive power and ability to arrive at decisions.
The child is also be subjected to screening for any physical disability or problem. The battery of physical tests comprises measuring of head dimensions, weight, height etc.Hearing tests are performed to assess if the developmental delays or lack of language skills and social reciprocity can be attributed to hearing problems.
Doctors also conduct special tests to check the child for any lead poisoning. This could manifest itself as a specific condition called pica wherein the kid exhibits a craving for non-food items such as dirt or even paint. It is common to find that children with tardy growth carry on putting objects in their mouth long after this stage has been crossed in other children showing normal growth. This trait is generally responsible for lead poisoning in affected children.