At what age can children be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,968
    Autism expert Peggy Halliday discusses at what age a child can be diagnosed with autism.

    Peggy Halliday

    Peggy Halliday is a board certified associate behavior analyst who has specialized in autism education for the past ten years. She is the Director of Outreach Services at the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) in Charlottesville, VA. VIA is a non-profit organization which provides a day school and other resources for families, educators, and other professionals seeking services, training or information about autism and evidence-based interventions. The Institute operates a year-round school for students ages 2-22, a 700-volume library, training workshops, internships for undergraduate and graduate students and teachers, and customized trainings for schools. Peggy supervises a wide range of outreach services, including development and supervision of comprehensive, home-based early intervention programs incorporating naturalistic, incidental, and structured teaching using the principles of applied behavior analysis; training for parents and home instructors; skills assessments, functional behavior assessments and intervention plans, and consultation on Individual Education Plan goals. She has presented trainings and workshops at state and national conferences.

    Host: At what age can children be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder?

    Peggy Halliday: There are many experts who believe that children can reliably be diagnosed with autism at about 18 months of age. Parents will say that there are lots of autism symptoms that they noticed perhaps starting at about 6 months of age and there are research studies going on with siblings, of children who are already diagnosed to watch those kids from a very early age and they are noticing some differences as early as six months. But in order for a reliable diagnosis most doctors agree and most specialists who work with children with autism agree that 18 months is about the age where the diagnosis can be given reliably. Unfortunately, most children are not diagnosed until three or four years old and in many cases children are not diagnosed with autism until they go to school, so even above the age of five.