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Exams and Tests
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends screening children for autism during regularly scheduled well-child visits. This policy helps doctors identify signs of autism early in its course. Early diagnosis and treatment can help the child reach his or her full potential.
When a developmental delay is recognized in a child, further testing can help a doctor find out whether the problem is related to autism, another pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), or a condition with similar symptoms, such as language delays or avoidant personality disorder. If your primary care provider does not have specific training or experience in developmental problems, he or she may refer your child to a specialist—usually a developmental pediatrician, psychiatrist, speech therapist, or child psychiatrist—for the additional testing.
Other lab tests may be done under specific circumstances. These tests include:
All doctors who see infants and children for well-child visits should watch for early signs of developmental disorders. Developmental screening tools, such as the Ages and Stages Questionnaire or the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT), can help assess behavior.
If a doctor discovers the following obvious signs of developmental delays, the child should immediately be evaluated:4
If there are no obvious signs of developmental delays or any unusual indications from the screening tests, most infants and children do not need further evaluation until the next well-child visit.
But children who have a sibling with autism should continue to be closely monitored, because they are at increased risk for autism and other developmental problems.
When socialization, learning, or behavior problems develop in a person at any time or at any age, he or she should also be evaluated.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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