Diagnosing your child is more complex then finding the a doctor and putting a label on it. Many parents do not want a label on their child which is understandable. Without the label the proper services cannot be administered to your child. Finding the right answer is highly personal and individual. Some adhere strictly to homeopathic diagnosis and remedies, some adhere strictly to a medical diagnosis and remedy, and others navigate the middle by working within the medical field while using some homeopathic remedies. Getting to the diagnosis, now that is the trick.
First, the psychologist has to determine if there are any medical conditions that are present. This is considered Axis III of the DSM diagnosis criteria. For example, lead poisoning can mimic the symptoms of autism and is it possible that environmental sensitivities could also do the same in children? Are the miraculous recoveries we see from autism simply an effect of cleaning up a child’s diet and environment? These are serious questions that warrant studying. These are questions asked on Axis IV of the DSM diagnosis. These two factors are often intertwined.
Second, the psychologist has to run intelligence tests and check your child’s IQ level to eliminate the possibility of retardation. The other element he has to eliminate are personality disorders. This is considered Axis II in the DSM and previously autism fell under Axis II in DSM III and DSM IV had it moved to Axis I. Axis I entails major mental disorders and learning disorders.
Then, on Axis V, a Children’s Global Assessment Scale is used to determine a child’s ability to function in daily life. Using a scale of 1 to 100 and asking questions about everyday living a child is rated as to how they function with 100 being superior functioning and 1 requiring constant supervision.
Finally, other disorders that could mimic autism must be eliminated. In addition, they must interfere with daily life function and present for six months or more. With autism, at least six behavioral or developmental symptoms must be present, (to be discussed in further articles), and these symptoms must have presented before age three.
After a diagnosis helpful information can be found in this PDF called “Autism Speaks: 100 Day Kit.” Within the Fargo area a parent(s) have many resources they can call on for help not to diagnosis their child but after the diagnosis and to put together a care plan which will also implement resources for their child.
Diagnosis- Mental Health America of North Dakota is located in Bismarck. By calling them you can find a professional in your area to diagnose your child.
In Grand Forks, Catherine Yeager Ph.D. specializes in children's diagnosis. (Bottom of page)
After Diagnosis and Long Term Resources - North Dakota Federation of Families of Children's Mental Health