A typical diagnostic evaluation involves a multi-disciplinary team of doctors including a paediatrician, psychologist, speech and language pathologist and occupational therapist. Genetic testing may likewise be recommended, as well as screening for related medical issues such as sleep difficulties. This type of comprehensive helps parents understand as much as possible about their child's strengths and needs.
Sometimes an autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed later in life, often in relation to learning, social or emotional difficulties. As with young children, diagnosis of adolescents and adults involves personal observation and interview by a trained specialist. Often, a diagnosis brings relief to those who have long struggled with difficulties in relating socially while not understanding the source of their difficulties. A diagnosis can also open access to therapies and assistive technologies that can improve function in areas of difficulty and, so, improve overall quality of life.
From birth to at least 36 months of age, every child should be screened for developmental milestones during routine well visits. When such a screening—or a parent—raises concerns about a child's development, the doctor should refer the child to a specialist in developmental evaluation and early intervention. These evaluations should include hearing and lead exposure tests as well as autism-specific screening tools.