How Is ASD or Autism Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of ASD is clinical, meaning “what you see is what you’ve got.” One needs to meet specific diagnostic criteria for ASD, but the general requirements are that one must have symptoms that belong to the three main areas of impairments:

  • Speech and communication impairment
  • Social interaction difficulties
  • Repetitive stereotype behaviors (unusual impulsive and ritualistic mannerisms)

These symptoms coupled with a severe impairment in speech, social skills, or repetitive stereotyped behavior qualifies one for ASD. The three levels of severity depend on how much support each individual requires.

At times, especially when diagnosed early, it may be difficult to predict what the final outcome will be. Even though ASD is a lifelong disorder, some children will do better than others and a small proportion may “outgrow” some of the difficulties. Subtle changes, however, persist universally, even in the best of situations throughout life, and involve mostly social interaction skills and some obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

A simplified way of understanding the diagnosis of ASD is looking at the ASD assessment scale questionnaire. In order to qualify for an ASD diagnosis, one needs to have some behavioral features from each one of the three subgroups listed. This, of course, must be associated with a severe speech, social, or repetitive behavior impairment. A more comprehensive understanding of the condition and its diagnostic levels is provided by the DSM V criteria for ASD.