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About Autism in children – Part 3

Autism problems happens when the brain develops differently and has trouble with an important job.
• Every day, our brains interpret (understand) the things we see, smell, hear, taste, touch, and experience.
• When the brain has trouble interpreting these things, it can make it hard to talk, listen, understand, play, and learn.
• A kid’s symptoms could be very mild, severe, or somewhere in the middle.

Autism Diagnosis

• There is no lab test or X-ray that can confirm the diagnosis of autism.
• The diagnosis of autism is based on clinical judgment regarding observations of behavior.
• Information from family members and other observers is of primary importance in making the diagnosis
• Pediatrician may order tests to rule out other conditions that might be confused with autism.
• They may be like mental retardation, metabolic or genetic diseases, or deafness.
• A single visit with the pediatrician is not enough to establish the diagnosis of autism.
• The pediatrician observes the child and may do a simple screening test.
• This is to see if a developmental problem may be present.
• Screening tests do not diagnose autism.
• These tests are done in the office.
• They are simple tests that indicate a problem may exist.
• They usually involve simply observing specific behaviors (for very young children) or how a child responds to simple commands or questions (for older children).
• Some widely used screening tests include the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT) for children aged 18 months to 4 years of age and the Autism Screening Questionnaire for children aged 4 years and older.
• Other conditions must be ruled out.
• The diagnosis of autism must be established with certainty before treatment begins.
• If the pediatrician believes that further evaluation is necessary, he or she will refer the child to a professional.
• This is a professional who specializes in developmental disorders.

This specialist may be a:
• developmental pediatrician
• a child psychiatrist
• a pediatric neurologist
• a child psychologist
• speech and language pathologists
• audiologists (specialists in testing hearing)
• occupational therapists
• physical therapists
• social workers who may be involved in the evaluation process.

The comprehensive evaluation of a child with autism might include:
• obtaining complete medical and family history;
• physical exam;
• formal audiology evaluation;
• selected medical/lab tests on an individual basis;
• study of lead levels, genetic tests, metabolic tests, brain MRI, electroencephalogram [EEG];
• speech, language, and communication assessment;
• cognitive and behavioral assessments;
• focus on social skills and relationships, problem behaviors, motivation and reinforcement, sensory functioning, and self-regulation;
• academic assessment (educational functioning, learning style).

Autism Treatment

A pediatrician will refer the caregiver and the child to a specialist in developmental disorders for the assessment. Some people may want to have this specialist treat their child’s condition:
• There is no standard treatment for autism.
• Different professionals have different philosophies and practices in caring for their patients.
• You may want to talk to more than one specialist.
• This will help them to find the one with whom they feel most comfortable.
• Ask family members, friends, and the health care practitioner to obtain referrals.
• Call autism groups or check the Internet for referral services.
• Treatment strategies used in autism include behavioral, educational, biomedical, and complementary therapies.

Medical Treatment
• Many different biomedical treatments are used in autism.
• The most widely used are medications to treat seizures and behavioral and emotional problems associated with autism.

Getting Help for Autism
• The earlier a child starts getting help, the better.
• But figuring out if a kid has an autism spectrum disorder can be difficult at the beginning.
• Often, specialists work together as a team to figure out if there is a problem.
• In addition to the doctor, the team might include a psychologist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, and teacher.

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew Autism By Hand 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism

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