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Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are very different from normal children, but these differences are not always immediately apparent. For this reason, autism and similar disorders like Asperger Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder are not easily diagnosed.
Children who have ASD share common deficits. Their social interaction and verbal and nonverbal communication abilities are delayed. They engage in repetitive behaviors. Their reactions to people and situations are unusual. Because these symptoms do not always present themselves from birth, and they often vary in their intensity, parents are sometimes bewildered and do not seek help right way. It is beneficial to children with ASD to have professional intervention as early as possible.
While there is no blood test available to test for autism, experts have developed many reliable screening options. To diagnose autism, experts must study the behavior of the child over time, looking for the common deficits. Often, parents need to answer many questions about their child's behavior since birth.
* Checklist of Autism in Toddlers (CHAT)– This screener gives a list of "symptoms" that autistic toddlers present. If the expert sees a certain number in the child, it is likely autism is present.
* Screening Tool for Autism in Two-Year-Olds (STAT)– This screener looks for common behaviors.
* Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ)– Designed for children 4 years of age and older, this screener is completed by parents.