Currently, there aren't any medical tests that can diagnose autism. Usually a specially trained physician or psychologists administer autism-specific behavioural evaluations.
Often parents are the first to notice that their child is showing unusual behaviours such as failing to make eye contact, not responding to his or her name or playing with toys in unusual, repetitive ways.
Autism is not only found in children and sometimes the disorder is diagnosed later in life. This again is often in relation to learning, social or emotional difficulties. Like with young children, the diagnosis of adolescents and adults involves observation and sometimes an interview by a trained specialist. A diagnosis in an older person can bring relief to those who have struggled with difficulties with social interaction while not understanding the source of these difficulties. Once diagnosed with the disorder, it can also open access to therapies that can improve function in areas of difficulty and in turn improve the quality of relations and life.
One of the ways that many people have actively sought treatment for their child or adolescent is through a Speech Pathologist.
When a Speech Pathologist is assisting a patient with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it's their job to evaluate how well the child can communicate and socialise in every aspect. This analysis can take place at a clinic, as well as at home and other informal settings. It's not a quick process, as Autism Spectrum Disorder can have such varying degrees of intensity and presentation in a patient. A well-trained and experienced Speech Pathologist can gauge communicative and language skills effectively and will work to have a diagnosis as quickly as they can.
A Speech Pathologist can also pick up on social cues that suggest the presence of Autism Spectrum Disorder but could be misdiagnosed as a variety of other conditions. The prevalence of language and communication-based difficulties in the condition means that a good Speech Pathologist is well-equipped to 'connect the dots' and draw conclusions based on their required professional expertise.
The amount of sessions that one may need will vary, and it is always important to find the right person for treatment.