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Autism Diagnosis: What to Look For

Considering a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for your child can be a scary thing.

Arming yourself with knowledge can help reduce the anxiety and prepare you for what’s to come.

Although early indicators are no substitute for a proper diagnostic assessment, there are some warning signs to be aware of. These warning signs do not necessarily indicate that your child has ASD, and some are indicative of other disorders, but concerns can be brought up during screenings and with your Primary Care Physician.

  • Lack of eye contact or avoidance of eye contact (culturally sensitive – not applicable in all cultures)
  • Lack of or limits to use of words, sounds, gestures to communicate wants and needs
  • Lack of understanding words
  • Lack of use of objects (in play and exploration)
  • Lack of imitation of adult and peer actions and sounds
  • Failure to gain joint attention or lack of attempts from child to gain your joint attention (joint attention – parent and child attending to same object or action)
  • Failure to follow eye gaze of others or attend to where others are pointing
  • Inappropriate behaviors used to gain your attention (tantrums, does not use “Mommy/Mama” or “Daddy/Dada/Papa”
  • Is not interested in things when others are interested in them
  • Does not show things to parents that they are interested in
  • Failure to respond to name (does not turn head, look in direction of speaker when name is called)
  • Does not wave, point, nod yes/no
  • Does not ask for help
  • Does not play with toys
  • Engages in repetitive actions, makes same sounds over and over, has very limited interests
  • In addition to other indicators; cries, tantrums, or behaves inappropriately when transition to new location or activity
  • Engages in self-injury
Officical Diagnostic Criteria for Autism

In addition to other assessments, clinicians will use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V) (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).  According to the DSM-V, the following five criteria are considered for diagnosis:

  • Persistent deficits in social interactions and communication
  • Repetitive and restricted patterns of behavior, activities, or interests
  • Symptoms present from (but not necessarily manifested during) the early developmental period
  • Symptoms result in clinically significant impairments in important areas of functioning
  • Symptoms are not better explained by intellectual disabilities, or global developmental delay

Autism is also diagnosed with or without intellectual impairment and/or language impairment.

Explore Aspire CFS Services

Testing & Assessments

Suspecting autism or another disability affecting you or your child’s functioning? We offer diagnostic testing.

Intensive Behavioral Health Services (IBHS)

We offer both home/community & school-based behavioral health services.

Autism Services

Aspire CFS provides comprehensive Autism services.