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Who Can Diagnose Autism in Children?

If your child shows signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), their pediatrician will likely refer them to a specialist for a comprehensive developmental evaluation. Medical doctors trained to treat ASD in children can include child psychiatrists, pediatric neurologists, or developmental pediatricians. In some cases, trained specialists who are not medical doctors may perform the evaluation, such as speech-language pathologists, child psychologists, or occupational therapists.

While a diagnosis from a medical doctor may carry the most weight when seeking services from your local school district, it is better to get a diagnosis early and begin treatment than to wait for a highly regarded M.D. to become available. Psychologists and other clinicians who specialize in treating autism are often highly trained and experienced, and may be just as qualified as a medical doctor.

Diagnosing and treating ASD as early as possible can make a huge impact on a child’s development. If you find later that your child needs a diagnosis from a medical doctor in order to receive certain accommodations, it can be worthwhile to seek a second diagnosis at that time. In the meantime, it is best to get your child diagnosed and started in therapy without delay. Our outreach department has a list of trained specialists in the Illinois area. Feel free to reach out for more information!

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