Similar to many diagnoses, ASD is something that people often have a lot of questions about. ASD stands for autism spectrum disorder. ASD is most generally defined as a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave. Often people, especially teenagers, or parents concerned about their children, will ask questions about autism, or assume they have it based off of a tiktok quiz they found. Throughout this article we will break down ASD, what it looks like, and what the concept of the diagnosis being a spectrum looks like.
ASD is the official diagnosis from the DSM-5, but that has not always been the case. The spectrum of the diagnosis used to be individually diagnosed. If you have ever heard the term Asperger’s, that was a diagnosis for high functioning autism that is no longer used. Now the diagnosis is just based on the range, or spectrum, of the symptoms, the severity, and the impact of the symptoms in the person’s life. According to the National Institute of mental health, the people who are diagnosed with ASD often have difficulty with communication and interaction with other people, restricted interests and repetitive behaviors, and symptoms that affect their ability to function in school, work, and other areas of life.
Well, with a breakdown like this it makes sense that teenagers are taking a quiz online and self-diagnosing as having ASD. There is a lot more to ASD than this list really displays. A few of the more in-depth behaviors would be; making little or no eye contact, infrequent sharing of interests, emotions or enjoyment, not responding or being slow to respond to their own name or someone who is trying to get their attention, difficulties adjusting behaviors to social situations, or difficulties sharing in imaginative play or making friends. When the generic statement of challenges with social communication or interaction behaviors is extended and broken down, it becomes more obvious that a lot of people are probably mis-diagnosing themselves just based on having social anxiety or challenges in new situations. It is important to gain a diagnosis from a professional. Below we will review the process for diagnosing ASD.
ASD is a neurological and developmental disorder and is diagnosed with a series of evaluations based on the child’s, or the person’s, developmental behaviors. If there are concerns from the parents, caregivers, or providers, additional diagnostic evaluations will be conducted. There are a battery of evaluations that are completed by child neurologists, developmental pediatricians, speech-language pathologists, child psychologists, and psychiatrists, and occupational therapists (cdc.gov, 2023). ASD diagnoses can come as early as 2 years of age, at least as a preliminary diagnosis. While the original developmental tracking tools are great for monitoring the developmental progress, they do not provide a diagnosis. If you are concerned about your kiddo, or need more information, the best place to start would be with a primary care provider or a mental health provider to get a referral for a diagnostic evaluation.