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Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

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Physical Examination for Autism

During the physical examination, the health professional looks for specific signs of autism. A child suspected of having autism will have assessments, including:

  • Weight and height measurements, to determine whether he or she has a normal growth pattern.
  • Head circumference measurements, to determine whether head size is normal. Some children with autism have a larger- or smaller-than-average head.
  • Examination of the face, arms, and legs, to look for any birth defects.
  • Routine tests to ensure that developmental delays aren't caused by hearing loss and/or vision problems.
  • Evaluation for self-inflicted injuries. Sometimes injurious behaviors such as face slapping or head banging are caused by an underlying infection or injury.
  • Reflex testing. Children with autism often have undeveloped reflexes.
  • Exercises to determine hand dominance. Some autistic children have a delayed development of right- or left-handedness.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerFred Volkmar, MD - Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Current as ofApril 3, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 03, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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