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Diagnosis and Assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Medical Perspective 

Diagnosis and Assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Medical Perspective
Diagnosis and Assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Medical Perspective

Daniel L. Coury

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date: 15 July 2020

This chapter discusses the medical aspects of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), and their influence on diagnosis, assessment, and treatment. As part of a multidisciplinary diagnostic evaluation for autism, which typically includes a pediatrician, psychologist, speech-language pathologist, and occupational therapist, the medical evaluation is a key component that can inform not only diagnosis but treatment. A thorough developmental and family history should be taken with the goal of identifying risk factors for developmental disorders including autism. The developmental history should include prenatal conditions that affect the developing fetus, perinatal experiences, and conditions or illnesses encountered in infancy and childhood. The medical assessment also should address any coexisting functional complaints. Concerns seen most frequently in children with ASDs include gastrointestinal and related nutritional status, sleep issues, innate immunity or risk for infectious diseases, and general behaviors such as stereotypies or hyperactivity. Psychiatric comorbidities such as ADHD, anxiety, and depression are very common, especially in older children and adolescents.

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