Autism evaluation and screening

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?

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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:

Image is a screenshot from the resource directory that shows the search options for medical and clinical services.

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