How is autism diagnosed and is there a medical test?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 15,940
    Autism expert Peggy Halliday discusses how autism is diagnosed.

    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: How is autism diagnosed and is there a medical test?

    Peggy Halliday: There is no medical test for autism it is diagnosed solely by looking at a child's behaviors. The diagnostic and statical manual is a manual that doctors use to characterize the symptoms of autism. There are 12 symptoms of autism across 3 areas: social interaction, communication, and behavior. In order for a child to receive a diagnosis of autism they have to have a total of six impairments. Two of them need to be in the area of social deficits, one each in the area of communication and behavior.