How You Get a Diagnosis
If you notice signs in your child, see your pediatrician. He can refer you to a mental health expert who specializes in ASDs, like one of these:
Psychologist. He diagnoses and treats problems with emotions and behavior.
Pediatric neurologist. He treats conditions of the brain.
Developmental pediatrician. He specializes in speech and language issues and other developmental problems.
Psychiatrist. He has expertise in mental health conditions and can prescribe medicine to treat them.
The condition is often treated with a team approach. That means you might see more than one doctor for your child's care.
The doctor will ask questions about your child's behavior, including:
- What symptoms does he have, and when did you first notice them?
- When did your child first learn to speak, and how does he communicate?
- Is he focused on any subjects or activities?
- Does he have friends, and how does he interact with others?
Then he'll observe your child in different situations to see firsthand how he communicates and behaves.
Every child is different, so there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. Your doctor might need to try a few therapies to find one that works.
Treatments can include:
Social skills training. In groups or one-on-one sessions, therapists teach your child how to interact with others and express themselves in more appropriate ways. Social skills are often best learned by modeling after typical behavior.
Speech-language therapy. This helps improve your kid's communication skills. For example, he'll learn how to use a normal up-and-down pattern when he speaks rather than a flat tone. He'll also get lessons on how to keep up a two-way conversation and understand social cues like hand gestures and eye contact.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It helps your child change his way of thinking, so he can better control his emotions and repetitive behaviors. He'll be able to get a handle on things like outbursts, meltdowns, and obsessions.
Parent education and training. You'll learn many of the same techniques your child is taught so you can work on social skills with him at home. Some families also see a counselor to help them deal with the challenges of living with someone with Asperger's.