Health Watch - Autism: Diagnosing Autism

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about autism, in recognition of Autism Awareness Month. Previously, we talked about some of the symptoms that could indicate autism. But there are other reasons that could explain these symptoms, which can make it difficult to diagnose autism.

Autism is a relatively new diagnosis. It wasn’t even an official diagnosis until 1980. A wide range of conditions and symptoms fall into the category of autism spectrum disorders, which makes it difficult to make a quick and definitive diagnosis. Dr. Catherine Karni, a pediatric psychiatrist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says there isn’t a simple diagnostic test for autism, so one visit to your pediatrician won’t be enough to confirm whether your child has autism. It may take assessments by a team of specialists to make a diagnosis and recommend the best course of treatment.

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April 2011


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