Neurodevelopmental/ Autistic Disorders are a group of developmental brain disorders, also called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These conditions cover a wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment, or disability. Most are diagnosable in children as young as two years. Some children suffer only a mild impairment by their symptoms, while others may be severely disabled.
Early diagnosis is the key to effective treatment. A team that includes a psychiatrist, speech therapist, neurophysiologist and/or other medical professionals may do a comprehensive evaluation to assess the child’s cognitive level (thinking skills), language level, and adaptive behavior (age-appropriate skills such as eating, dressing, and toileting independently).
Because Neurodevelopmental/ Autistic Disorders cover many complex disorders that may occur simultaneously along with other illnesses or learning disorders, this evaluation may include brain imaging and gene tests, along with in-depth memory, problem-solving, and language testing. Hearing tests should always be administered as some symptoms of PDD are identical to hearing loss.
An autism specialist will be an important part of each child’s evaluation team and can provide valuable input for a personalized treatment plan. The outcome of the initial evaluation will indicate what steps should be taken to customize a plan for the child with any form of Neurodevelopmental/ Autistic Disorders, and can also be used to help formulate an IEP (Individual Education Plan) for school aged children.