Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent deficits in social communication and interaction in the presence of restricted, repetitive behaviors and interests.

Previously, individuals with autism spectrum characteristics received a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified; Asperger’s Disorder; or Autistic Disorder, depending on their level of characteristics. All of these diagnoses have been combined to form a single diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Early Signs of ASD Include:

  • Limited or no eye contact
  • Limited / no shared enjoyment in social games
  • Delayed communication
  • Unusual interests
  • Repetitive behaviors

Later Signs May Include:

  • Difficulty forming and maintaining friendships
  • Poor conversational skills
  • Difficulty reading nonverbal cues
  • Adherence to rules and routines
  • Difficulty understanding emotions

How ASD is Identified:

There is no medical test, such as a blood test, for autism. Professionals who are appropriately trained can identify autism characteristics through observation and interaction, comparing observed behaviors to those expected of others the same age.

Components of a Comprehensive Evaluation:

Components include:

  • Parent/Caregiver Interview
  • Direct assessment using the “gold standard” measures: Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition (ADOS-2) and Autism Diagnostic Interview, Revised (ADI-R)
  • Adaptive behavior interview
  • Rating scales related to behavior, social skills, and autism spectrum characteristics


Additional assessments to be included whenever possible:

  • Cognitive or developmental assessment
  • Language assessment
  • Observation of the child in a naturalistic setting (school, daycare, community location). Review of video footage is also helpful when a direct observation is not possible.