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Caring for AutismPractical Advice from a Parent and Physician$
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Michael Ellis

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190259358

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190259358.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 13 May 2021

Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Chapter:
3 Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Source:
Caring for Autism
Author(s):

Michael Ellis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190259358.003.0007

The assessment and diagnosis phase of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a very difficult time for the parent. You will likely feel completely bewildered. You will be filled with many mixed emotions such as love for your child and fear for your child’s future. You may feel like your heart is breaking. But I can tell you, you are going to make it through this—just like I have. You will likely have to overcome significant denial to even discuss the unusual signs or symptoms that you have noticed in your young child. You may be afraid to hear the term “autism” come from your pediatrician’s mouth. However, you are about to start a very important journey with your child. You have to be strong in order to obtain for your child vital treatments and therapies that can dramatically improve your child’s life and future. Theoretically, ASD is not difficult to recognize and diagnose. However, in practice, it can be challenging. The full spectrum of symptoms included in ASD is quite wide. One child may appear quite typical with only minor eccentricities while another has significant intellectual disability, social impairment, self-injurious behavior, and aggression. No two individuals with ASD are exactly alike. In fact, individuals with autism are often more different than similar. We cannot easily pigeonhole or stereotype our children. Further complicating diagnosis, professionals often have little training in ASD, even in fields that have autism within their scope of practice. Furthermore, children with more subtle ASD symptoms or those who are “high-functioning” (more verbal and with more capabilities in general) do not always have symptoms that are evident at a very young age. At times, autism symptoms may not be identifiable until social problems become more significant as the child grows older. Primary care physicians are not typically able to spend long enough with your child during visits to pick up on the sometimes subtle signs needed to alert them to a possible ASD diagnosis.

Keywords:   aggression, bipolar disorder, childhood psychosis, defiance, encephalitis, fetal alcohol syndrome, genetic testing, homocystinuria, misdiagnosis, pediatrician

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