Autism diagnosis focuses on the child’s behaviors and development. Diagnosis of autism is divided into two stages:
1. Child development: A specialist performs a short test aimed at demonstrating whether a child has basic skills for a given life span or has some delays. During this examination, the physician asks a number of questions to the parents, such as whether he or she can learn well, how to talk, how to behave, or can move properly. This is important because delay in each of these areas may indicate developmental disability. Each child who goes to a specialist is tested for developmental delay and disability at 9 months, 18 months, 24 or 30 months, respectively.
When a child is suspected of being at high risk of developmental disability resulting from other family members with autism, premature birth or low birth weight – additional screening is required. Screening tests should be given to children aged 1.5-2 years.
2. Comprehensive evaluation of the child – this is the second stage of diagnosis. The assessment of the child involves the behavior of the child and parental interviews, in addition to neurological and genetic tests and other medical examinations. More accurate assessment of the child usually are undertaken by:
• Neurologists : Assess the work of the brain and nerves
• Developmental pediatricians evaluate the development of the child
• Child psychologists or psychiatrists have knowledge of the human mind and use it in the patient’s examination.
– Attention: If there occurs suspicion that our child is not developing properly, it is always necessary to go to a specialist! Most likely parents come to psychologists or pedagogues.
– In diagnosing the disease it is important to distinguish whether I have to do with autism or malfunction (hearing or sight problems). There are some illnesses that may resemble autism, so be sure to exclude them during the appropriate examinations. Observing the baby and talking with parents or caregiver are important elements needed to make a diagnosis.
– In summary: Based on parental experiences and their observations, it is worthwhile to perform the following:
• blood and urine tests
• laryngological studies – in order to exclude speech and hearing disorders
• toxoplasmosis and cytomegaly
• hearing tests – to exclude hearing problems,
• neurological examinations – performed to exclude other neurological disorders,
• ophthalmological examinations – to exclude visual problems,
• genetic or metabolic tests – often performed by parents to exlude autistic-like diseases.
AUTISM – CAN THIS DISEASE CURE?
Autism in children is a severe disease with a poor prognosis, which largely depends on the severity of symptoms and the degree of mental retardation. It is a disease difficult to cure. The child requires constant care. Treatment consists of different forms of psychotherapy – it should concern the whole family.
AUTISM – ADVICE FOR PARENTS
Consult your doctor if your baby:
• does not chat before one-year age is completed, does not develop speech
• is isolated from the environment
• stops communicating with you and others, closes him/her self in his/her own world.
It is extremely important to start the treatment as early as possible.