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Ask the Experts: Dr. Adler discusses the accurate diagnosis of Autism and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism, or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a serious condition. For the sake of those who suffer from it, it should be diagnosed accurately and carefully.

Over the past several years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children diagnosed with Autism in Hong Kong and the US.

Dr. Adler believes overdiagnosis plays a major role in the increase in the number of children with an Autism diagnosis based on his over 20 years’ experience. This is probably the result of

  1. Inadequate training of those working in behavioral psychology including psychologists, counsellors, mental health therapists, other therapists and psychiatrists
  2. Not following a best-practise approach to diagnosis
  3. The great overlap of symptoms between ASD and other disorders, especially those experienced by children. For example, poor eye contact is a characteristic of ASD, Social Anxiety Disorder, depression and, sometimes, ADHD

Accurate diagnosis can be achieved using a gold-standard, comprehensive approach to Autism assessment which includes

  1. Interviews with the child’s parents, teachers and other important adults in the child’s life
  2. Questionnaires completed by the child’s parents, teachers and other important adults in the child’s life
  3. Observations of child behaviour at school or in another setting
  4. Use of gold standard tests such as the ADOS-2 and the Vineland-3

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