What is autism and how is it diagnosed?

Autism, often referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is often very misunderstood, as it simply refers to a difference in the way that the brain works, when compared to those deemed as ‘neurotypical’.

Being a developmental disorder, ASD is usually diagnosed during childhood and is categorised by a difference in social skills.

As ASD is a spectrum, the severity of symptoms can differ between individuals, which can impact the diagnosis. Autism can also present itself differently between boys and girls, with autism in girls often being harder to diagnose.

According to the NHS, some of the symptoms of autism in children could include:

  • Not responding to social cues, such as responding to their name and avoiding eye contact
  • Repetitive movements, or saying the same phrases repeatedly
  • Getting distressed if their daily routine is interrupted
  • Not talking as much as other children and having difficulty forming friendships
  • Not being able to see things from someone else’s perspective, or understanding other’s thoughts and feelings
  • Taking things literally and not being able to understand double meanings

How is autism in children diagnosed?

For children to be diagnosed with autism, it is usually necessary to get a referral from a GP or a member of staff from the child’s school.

From this, an autism assessment will need to take place which could include discussing the issues that the parent has experienced as well as an observation of how the child interacts with other people.

Getting a diagnosis, makes it possible to gain a better understanding of how the child views the world, as well as getting the relevant support to ease the stress on the individual.

Find out more about autism on the National Autistic Society website.

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