At What Age Can You Test For Autism?
by Jaime Friedman
September 14, 2023
At What Age Can You Test For Autism?
At what age can you test for autism? Every child develops differently, and we understand the uncertainty a parent may have when considering whether or not their child requires autism screening or testing. Am I seeing possible symptoms of autism or is my child just delayed in a few areas? It’s a tough question to ask yourself as a parent. This guide will help you understand the earliest age range in which an autism diagnosis can be considered reliable.
At what age can autism be reliably diagnosed?
"At what age can you test for autism?" is a common question parents often ask their pediatricians to determ-ine when they can assess their child for potential autism spectrum disorder. Autism can be reliably diagnosed in early childhood, typically around the age of 2 years. However, the specific age at which an accurate diagnosis can be made varies depending on the individual child’s development and severity of their symptoms. Some children exhibit clear symptoms of autism as early as 18 months, while some do not show clear signs until they are a bit older.
The diagnostic process involves assessing various aspects of a child's behavior, communication skills, social interactions, and developmental milestones. Early signs of autism can often be observed in areas such as:
Social Communication: This includes how a child interacts with others, responds to their name, uses gestures, maintains eye contact, and engages in reciprocal conversation.
Repetitive Behaviors and Interests: These might involve repetitive movements, fixations on specific topics, or insistence on keeping routines exactly the same.
Sensory Sensitivities: Many children with autism have heightened or diminished sensory responses to stimuli such as lights, sounds, textures, or smells.
Developmental Milestones: Delays in reaching developmental milestones, such as speaking first words or engaging in pretend play, could also be indicators.
It's important to remember that early intervention is crucial, so if there are concerns about a child's development or behavior, it's recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or a developmental specialist for a comprehensive evaluation. In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on early screening and intervention for autism, as early detection and appropriate interventions can greatly improve outcomes for children with autism by helping them develop essential skills and adapt to their environment more effectively.
Can autism be diagnosed in toddlers?
Yes, children at the toddler stage (between 1 and 3 years) can be reliably diagnosed with autism. Check with your doctor if your child displays any symptoms in the areas listed above. Not every toddler who exhibits any of these behaviors will necessarily have autism. Some behaviors might be part of typical development, while others may be indicative of other developmental challenges. It’s best to double check with your pediatrician or primary care provider if you notice anything unusual in your child’s development.
Is it possible to diagnose autism in babies?
There can be many answers to the question: “At what age can you test for autism?” Diagnosing autism in general is challenging, because it presents differently in each individual. Babies, especially, can reach developmental milestones at different rates even without the presence of any health conditions. While some early signs of autism might be observed in babies, many of the characteristic behaviors and symptoms become more evident as a child grows and develops.
No matter what age you start testing your child for autism, it can be a long process that may grant more questions than answers. At Aspire, we can guide you through the diagnostic testing process, and help you figure out what comes next.