How is Autism Diagnosed?
The diagnosis is usually made by a multidisciplinary team who will often all independently assess the young person.
Such professionals can include a paediatrician, a speech therapist and a psychologist. They will also take information from a number of other sources that include school information/reports, parent/carer views, observations from more than one setting and a detailed family history.
There are a number of different assessments available to the professionals involved making the diagnosis, but all of them should follow the guidelines set out by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE). The professionals will use the NICE guidelines, and the diagnostic manuals the ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems) or the DSM-V(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders ) to check if the symptoms match the diagnostic criteria.
What are the Defining Characteristics of Autism
The characteristics of autism are often referred to as the ‘Triad of impairments’
There are three main difficulties experienced by people who are on the autistic spectrum, which are as follows:
- Communication difficulties
Language impairment, taking language literally, not understanding things such as sarcasm or jokes, having difficulty interpreting what different tones of voice might mean. Sometimes this is referred to as having difficulty ‘reading between the lines’ of what people are saying.
- Imagination difficulties
People with autism can seem to have rigidity and inflexibility of thought. They can be very resistant to change, or be obsessional and ritualistic with certain behaviours.
- Socialisation difficulties
People with autism have difficulty ‘reading’ others. They have trouble recognising or understanding other people’s feelings or emotions and intentions. They will often have difficulty expressing their own emotions also. A person with autism may appear to say inappropriate things at the wrong time, look for along time when feeling overwhelmed, seem insensitive or seem socially inappropriate.