Autism evaluation and screening

Getting an autism evaluation and screening can help you know if your child has autism, developmental delay or other diagnosis. Here's what you can do if you're concerned.

There are different kinds of testing that can help you know if your child has autism, developmental delay or other conditions.

Autism is a complex condition and is not easy to diagnose. It looks very different in different kids. If you suspect that your child may have autism or developmental delay, get a complete evaluation.

Image of and exclamation point and a clinic building. Text says: Most pediatricians are not experts in autism. It takes a specialist to do the right kind of testing. If you

Here's what you can do if you're concerned about your child:

  • Ask their doctor to do developmental screenings and autism screenings. Doctors should do these at least when your child is 9 months, 18 months and 24 months old. But they can do them at any time if you're concerned.

  • Make an appointment for an evaluation at a specialty Developmental Clinic.

  • Remember, you know your child best! If you are worried and think they may have autism, get a complete autism evaluation. (Even if your doctor doesn't agree.)

Click on the box below to learn more:

What's the difference between a screening and an evaluation?


Autism Screenings:

  • These are quick tests to see if your child is likely to have autism.

  • Doctors should do these anyway at your regular visits when your child is 9 months, 18 months, and 24 months old.

  • They will ask you to fill out a questionnaire about your child, and they will test for certain skills.

  • This will not give you a definite answer. The only way to know for sure is to get a full evaluation from a developmental specialist.

Developmental Screenings:

  • These are not specific to autism.

  • They check to see if your child is developing typical skills for their age.

  • They tell you if a child may have a developmental delay.

Full Developmental Evaluations:

  • These usually include several different tests that can help diagnose autism and other developmental conditions. They are done by specialists who are experts.

  • Ask your doctor to refer you to a specialty clinic, or make an appointment yourself. You can do this, even if the screening did not show a concern!

  • Schedule this as soon as possible if you think your child is having trouble. There may be a waitlist. Consider getting on more than one waitlist.

Learn More

  • If your child is between 16 and 30 months old, see this website to do a free online test: M-CHAT Screening Test for Autism. Note: you don't have to register: you can take the test as a Guest. It will tell you if your child is at risk of having autism, and you can download a report to share with the doctor.
  • For a very detailed description of assessments for autism, see A Parents' Guide to Assessment.

(You can download this 66-page booklet from the Organization for Autism Research.)


Look in our Resource Directory to find a clinic that can do a full autism evaluation! Look under Developmental Pediatricians:

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