This post is just scratching the surface about Autism and what a diagnosis of Autism means in a clinical context. Stay tuned for a future post about why it may be helpful to test for, and have a diagnosis of Autism, and what supports might be helpful for an Autistic individual.
Is it Autistic person or person with Autism Spectrum Disorder?
A quick note about language here. Society has largely adopted “person first” language as being politically correct. Here, that would be “person with Autism Spectrum Disorder” or “person with Autism.” Many doctors have also been trained this way. Many Autistic people though prefer “Autistic person” or “Autistic brain.” I am using the latter, because an Autistic person’s right to dictate how other people refer to them is important to me.
What is Autism?
Autism is a difference in thinking and perception. People with Autistic brains process the world differently than non-Autistic brains (aka “neurotypical”), primarily related to social and sensory experiences. The word differently is extremely important here. Although it is a clinical diagnosis and considered a disability, the Autistic brain is an equally valid way of being in the world.
Who can make a diagnosis of Autism?
A diagnosis of Autism is made by a clinical psychologist, developmental behavioral pediatrician, or a multidisciplinary team (including a clinical psychologist, speech/language pathologist, occupational therapist and/or developmental pediatrician). An educational classification, as is sometimes given in an IEP, is not the same as a medical diagnosis.
How do you test for Autism?
Testing will likely include a number of components, including:
The important thing is establishing patterns across all of the tools used.
What are the symptoms of Autism?
Symptoms of Autism are categorized into two main areas in the manual clinicians use make mental health diagnoses: social communication and interaction, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.
Social communication and interaction gets at:
Which for an Autistic brain can look like:
Restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests gets at:
Which for the Autistic brain can look like:
This is a great resource for a description of Autism and how Autism can look across the population: https://autisticadvocacy.org/about-asan/about-autism/
Dr. Danielle Mohr is a licensed psychologist at Wolff Child Psychology. She specializes in comprehensive evaluations for children, teens, and young adults, particularly when the referral question is Autism, and she conducts regular individual and family therapy sessions.
Wolff Child Psychology is a team of licensed psychologists and neuropsychologists, psychology trainees, and academic and behavioral coaches that provide a range of psychological, behavioral, and academic services
(Click here to see our provider page).
This blog was created to help parents and providers understand more about what we do and give you concrete tools and resources about topics like Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, anxiety, parenting, and more!
We hope that this information can help empower you to make changes or get the support you need for your child and family.