Diagnosis of Autism

Diagnosis of autism is usually made by the age of 3. Early diagnosis and treatment often helps to improve outcome for patients. Diagnosis includes the following:

  • Physical examination (may include neurological examination)
  • Medical history (includes family history, birth history, and early development)
  • Medical tests (to rule out other conditions)

Physicians use various screening tools to evaluate development, communication and language skills, and interaction with others. They usually question caregivers about the child's development (e.g., Did the child babble, point, wave, and grasp objects by 12 months of age?) and observe the child closely during office visits.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 29 Feb 2000

Last Modified: 01 Sep 2015