Since there is no physical symptoms in autism, we cannot use medical test (e.g., blood test) to diagnose a person with autism. Psychologist need to use different assessment screening tools, make observations in children’s behaviors and responses to reach conclusion for diagnosis.
It is important to note that there is a huge difference in diagnostic criteria between DSM IV and DSM 5. In DSM IV, Autistic Disorder, Rett’s disorder, Asperger’s disorder, and Pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) are all under the umbrella of ASD. In DSM 5, you would not have the above diagnostic subcategories, instead diagnosis are combined into one umbrella of ASD. Language impairment is not longer included in diagnostic criteria, but included in other categories. So under the new diagnosis, your child wouldn’t be given a label of PDD-NOS or Asperger’s disorder. Despite the lack of subcategory, the differential needs still exist. That is why individualize programming is the key of effective treatment.
Please refer to DSM 5 for diagnostic criteria for ASD and visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) website for more details. If you want to know the difference between DSM IV and DSM 5, you can also check out this quick chart.
You may contact the following centers or professional for initial screening. They provide simple testing to screen for developmental delays in your child and make recommendations for thorough assessment:
- Maternal and Child Health Center (pre-school children)
- Student Health Service Center (school age children)
- Paediatric departments of hospitals
- Private practitioners
- Clinical or Educational Psychologist
Pediatricians will give questionnaires to parents or interact with the child directly to observe their learning skills, language and communication skills, motor skills and behavior. They will then recommend for further assessment. Assessment is recommended as soons as possible.
Assessment is the second step of diagnosis. The assessment may include a thorough parent questionnaires about child’s behavior and development. It may also include vision and hearing test, gene test, neurological test, and other medical tests. Assessments are provided in the following sites in HK:
- Child assessment centres
- Child and adolescent psychiatric service of hospitals
If you have any questions or enquiries, please feel free to contact us.
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