Does my Child have Autism?

Parents love their children and want them to live happy and healthy lives. As first-time

parents, many people wonder if the odd things their children do are normal, or if there

maybe something wrong. For example, many children go through phases where they

place objects that aren’t food in their mouth- at what point does this becoming


With the rising knowledge of autism and other developmental disabilities, such as Down

Syndrome, parents may worry that their child has a disorder. This article aims to help

parents identify whether their child may or may not have autism, and to give some

general information about receiving a diagnosis, and what to expect in the future after a


Overview of Autism

As of 2016, one out of every 68 children had an autism diagnosis (Center of Disease

Control and Prevention), which means it is likely that somebody you know has a family

member with autism.

General symptoms of autism fall under two domains: social communication/interaction,

and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior.

Social communication and interaction

If you sometimes feel that it is difficult to connect with your child socially or

emotionally, you may be seeing symptoms of autism.

Examples of social symptoms of autism:

- Not responding to name

- Not pointing to objects to show interest

- Not engaging in pretend play

- Avoiding eye contact

- Delayed speech

Examples of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior:

- Upset by changes in routine

- Has limited and obsessive interests

- Makes repetitive movements like flapping hands, rocking, or spinning in


Some things put children at a higher risk for an autism diagnosis. These risk factors do

not mean that a child has a diagnosis, just that they are more likely than other children

to have autism.

Risk factors for autism include:

- Having older parents

- Having a family member diagnosed with autism

- Experiencing unusual medical events, such as seizures, gastrointestinal

concerns, or sleep problems

Obtaining a diagnosis

The American Association of Pediatrics recommends screening all children for

symptoms of autism at 18 and 24 months of age.

Your doctor or other clinicians may conduct direct or indirect assessments to evaluate

potential symptoms of autism.

First, your clinician will likely conduct an indirect assessment, which primarily consists of

asking about parents’ concerns about their child’s development. One tool for indirectly

assessing symptoms of autism is the M-CHAT. The M-CHAT is a questionnaire that

asks questions such as, “If you point at something across the room, does your child look

at it?” If the indirect assessment suggests that your child may have autism, they should

provide a referral for a clinician trained in autism assessment to conduct further indirect

and direct assessments.

During direct assessments, a clinician will interact with your child, observe their

behavior, and test certain skills. They may test cognitive skills, language usage,

adaptive skills (e.g., eating with a spoon), and how your child reacts to sensory



A diagnosis of autism is often scary for parents and other family members, however

there are many ways to help children with autism live happy and fruitful lives.

Almost one in ten children diagnosed with autism no longer meet diagnostic criteria by

young adulthood. This means that they are no longer showing symptoms of autism.

Some factors that promote success in these children are having higher cognitive skills

when diagnosed, receiving early behavioral intervention services, and demonstrating

decreases in repetitive behaviors.

We hope you found this information helpful. For further information about what to do after a

diagnosis, please read our next blog posts.

To learn more about behavioral intervention services and early behavioral intervention services go here:

Recent Posts

See All