Diagnosing ASD requires an evaluation by a developmental pediatrician, child psychiatrist, or pediatric neurologist. Most insurance companies, and virtually all public schools, require a written evaluation by a specialist before they provide, or pay for, the services autistic children need.
Because autism cannot be diagnosed by medical testing, screening and diagnosis involve interviews, observation, and evaluations. Even when a professional ventures an opinion, he will often hedge by saying, “Well, he is quirky and has some typical behaviors, and they are somewhat consistent with a diagnosis of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder.” This kind of talk is frustrating to the parents and the child, but it’s sometimes unavoidable. Another evaluation in a year often clarifies things, and sometimes a child doesn’t need a diagnosis, as long as he is getting the help he needs.
Next: Managing Autism Symptoms