A number of doctors and other experts can play important roles in helping a family deal with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

Autistic Behavioral Symptoms

Autism affects a person’s behavior, and his or her ability to communicate and learn social skills. Autistic people can also exhibit obsessive behavior, including intensive preoccupation with a particular object or topic. These are only a few of the potential symptoms, all of which can range from mild to severe. Symptoms usually become apparent by age three and will affect the person throughout his or her life.

Diagnosis is made by observing a child’s behaviors and abilities and questioning his or her loved ones. The process can include a number of different professionals from different fields.

Autism Assessment

Below is a list of some of the different points  at which a child is assessed for ASD, and the different specialists that can play a role.

Initial Screening

This will usually be performed by the family pediatrician or doctor. These doctors should already be doing developmental testing during a young child’s regular visits.

In these visits, the doctor will measure the child’s advancement in behavior, language skill, and ability to socialize, in an effort to see if he or she is developing properly in these areas. If the child isn’t, it may indicate a problem.

This is also likely to be the first doctor to whom parents will bring their concerns if they see something in their child’s development that concerns them.

In-Depth Evaluation

If the initial screening reveals warning signs, a more detailed round of tests is performed to determine with more certainty whether a child has an ASD or another issue which is affecting his or her development.

Experts who have all specialized in children and their development include:

  • neurologists
  • pediatricians
  • psychologists or psychiatrists

Educational Evaluation

Educators can make their own evaluation of a child to determine what special services he or she may need in the school setting. This evaluation can happen independently of a medical diagnosis.

According to the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, the evaluation is tailored to the child. The team that will make the evaluation could include:

  • psychologists
  • hearing and vision specialists
  • social workers
  • teachers