The Diagnosis of Autism is made on the basis of three main types of behavior; abnormal social behavior and the presence of repetitive unimaginative activities within the first years of life. The diagnosis of autism is based on observation of the individual's communication, behavior and developmental levels and should be done by a number of professionals.
It is suggested that a team of professionals diagnose a child with autism within the first three years including a developmental pediatrician, a psychologist or psychiatrist and a speech pathologist 1 all with experience in the field. Ideally a multidisciplinary team would be established including (in addition to those already mentioned); a neurologist and a learning consultant. 2 The information provided by parents, care givers provide a true picture of the behaviors and abilities of the individual.
If autism is not recognized and acknowledged a lack of services to meet the needs of the individual with autism will result. Often autism can be misdiagnosed as a mental retardation, behavioral disorder, hearing problems and even odd or eccentric behaviour. 3