How is a diagnosis of autism made?
A diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is a medical diagnosis.
To make a diagnosis of ASD a Community Paediatrician (a specialist in child health) needs to be involved or another specialist medical practitioner, such as a doctor from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
Because ASD is a communication and interaction disorder, the other health professional most likely to be involved is a Speech and Language Therapist (SALT).
The school is likely to refer the child to the Educational Psychologist (EP) if autism is suspected. The EP will give their opinion about the likelihood of the child having ASD and will offer advice to the school about strategies to help the child.
A diagnosis cannot (or should not), however, be made by one service alone.
A Multi-disciplinary Team Meeting (MDT) will be held to make the diagnosis. This will involve the parents, school (SENCO and/or teacher), usually the Community Paediatrician and any other agencies who have been involved, such as the SALT or EP.
At the MDT the Community Paediatrician will go through the main features of autism and the parents, school and other professionals will be asked for their opinions about whether the child is showing these features. The meeting will then come to a joint decision about whether the child has ASD.