The diagnosis of Autism is a very skilled task, which should be undertaken with the utmost sensitivity. Please remember it is very easy to go down the wrong path with home-based diagnosis. As with the other checklists provided on this site, use the list to see if the child 'fits'; if they don’t then the difficulty probably isn’t Autism. It is crucial that you bear in mind that Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that it is a very, very broad church. The diagnosis encompasses a huge array of difference between individual cases. The behaviours listed would normally be expected to be present across social contexts, and thus be present in contexts where they are quite inappropriate, taking into account the age of the child. If the following checklist seems to provide a good 'fit', then it would probably be wise to seek a referral to specialist, who can clarify the situation and provide a professional diagnosis.
It is crucial that the difference between a diagnosis, which is very broad, and a successful teaching approach, which is very specific and individual, is appreciated. Diagnosis does help in so far as we know from previous experience that certain general approaches to children with Autism are very effective. However, as every child with Autism is different, they will need the way they are taught adjusted to suit them. This can only be achieved by thoughtful and reflective teaching. The role of the psychologist is to promote that process and bring into the loop an array of ideas and strategies to help enhance learning opportunities.
- Has little interest in mixing or playing with other children.
- Leaves you confused because they laugh at inappropriate times, sometimes when people are hurt.
- Makes very little eye contact and when they do it is fleeting, often out of the corner of their eye.
- Likes predictability and routine and can become distressed if this does not occur.
- Would be described as having no fear of danger.
- Games may appear odd, choosing to play with unusual items such as vacuum cleaners.
- Does not seek attention when obviously in pain and may therefore be described as insensitive to pain.
- Repeats phrases that they have heard, often in a completely wrong and inappropriate context. They may repeat rude phrases.
- Would be described as liking their own company.
- Cuddles are not sought or wanted.
- May engage in the spinning of objects or be fascinated by patterns of moving light.
- Appears not to listen and respond to the verbal world.
- May attach to very unusual objects, or be over attached to items such as cars or Thomas the Tank Engine.
- Has great difficulty in expressing their wants and needs. Will probably be highly reliant upon gesture and puling adults to what they want.
- Physical activity may be much more pronounced than other children of the same age, or much less active.
- The child may enter into a tantrum without there being a discernable cue or trigger; the tantrums seem to come out of the blue.
- Will respond to teaching that is highly adjusted to suit children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders.
- There may be an uneven development of large and fine motor skill development. For instance, the child may be able to thread beads with great skill, but find riding a tricycle or bike very difficult.