Assessment and Evaluation

Autism is usually diagnosed during the early years of childhood. Diagnosis is based upon the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders which is the main diagnostic reference for mental health disorders in the United States. The diagnosis is typically based on clinical observation, caregiver report and history. Certain structured assessments that pull for characteristics typically associated with autism may assist in making the diagnosis.

Presently, there is no specific laboratory test for ASD. However, several behavioral and developmental evaluation and assessment tools may provide data helpful in making the clinical diagnosis of an ASD.

Examples of diagnostic tools sometimes used are:

  • Autism Diagnosis Interview - Revised (ADI-R™) is a comprehensive, structured interview conducted with the caregiver that focuses on 3 functional domains: language/communication, reciprocal social interactions and behavior.
  • Autism Diagnosis Observation Schedule (ADOS™) consists of standard, semi-structured activities that allow the examiner to observe the occurrence (or non occurrence) of behaviors that have been identified as important to the diagnosis of autism or other pervasive developmental disorders.
  • Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT™) is a parent completed questionnaire that consists of 23 yes/no items.
  • Screening Tool for Autism in Toddlers and Young Children (STAT™) is an interactive tool that assesses key social and communicative behaviors including imitation, play, requesting, and directing attention.