A complete medical history will be taken along with a
physical examination to help confirm the diagnosis of
autism or to see whether there are other causes for
unusual behaviors.1 Also, the doctor will ask
questions to assess the child's strengths and weaknesses and the family's
Information from this interview will help your doctor
apply the diagnostic standards from the American Psychiatric
Association.2 These standards are the basis for
recommendations used by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American
Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP).
will ask questions similar to the following.
The mother's pregnancy
How was the mother's general health during
pregnancy? Was she exposed to infection? Did she drink alcohol, smoke, or use
How was the child delivered, and were there problems during
How much did the child weigh, and did he or she have
problems after birth?
The child's communication skills
Is the child able to speak at the same level as
others his or her age?
Does the child ever bring parents items that
are of obvious interest or enthusiastically engage with parents to point out
objects or events?
Without making eye contact, will the child take
a parent's hand and guide the parent to a desired object instead of asking for
Can the child follow simple commands?
child respond to his or her name?
Does the child have any unusual
speech patterns, such as repeating heard phrases over and over (echolalia),
pronoun reversal, or using a monotone voice?
The child's social interaction
Is the child interested in social interaction,
or does the child distance himself or herself from others?
child make and sustain eye contact?
Does the child have a social
smile that he or she initiates or responds with to others' gestures?
The child's interests and unusual behaviors
Does the child have an attachment to any
unusual objects, such as a hard, metal object, rather than a blanket or stuffed
Does the child stare frequently?
Has the child
ever had any seizures?
Does the child play with toys in an unusual
Does the child play "pretend" (if older than age
Does the child have severe temper tantrums that can last a long
Parents and siblings
What are the parents' occupations and
education? Other resources?
Is there a family history of mood or