Diagnosis of Autism needs careful evaluation of the development of the individual.
Child Development: It is the journey that a child hat to go through to become an independent adult. Each child is unique and therefore is the journey child takes. Developmental milestones give a rough estimate of the pace of this journey. As a proud parent, you will be watching your child’s development. It is important not to worry too much about some variations in achievement of mile stone as this can be perfectly normal. However, as a parent you should act, if you notice any significant delay in many mile stones in your child’d development.
More importantly, if you see your child loosing the skills she or he had already acquired (It is called Regression of skills) you should act immediately.
An appropriate action, if you see any of the above is to consult a developmental paediatrician (a child specialist with skills in assessing the development of a child). When you see the doctor, please remember the doctor would want to hear about the development of the child from birth (actually even before birth – pregnancy, mother’s health during pregnancy, family details including some details about other children if you have any).A good developmental history will show if there have been variations in the development of social skills, communication and imagination.
While it is relatively easy to gather this information for young children, it becomes increasingly difficult as the individual ages. In an adult, taking the developmental history often would include gathering information from a variety of sources to get a clear picture of the development.
In addition, the individual needs to be assessed directly. The assessment can be structured using instruments such as Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) or unstructured interview by an experienced professional. To be able to do this effectively the professional would need training specifically in the assessment of autism.
If you are a professional trying to gather more information on the range of rating scales / assessment schedules, please see the page – Checklists and Rating Scales.