5 Reasons Why Autism Diagnosis Is Delayed

Dec 14, 2022
5 Reasons Why Autism Diagnosis Is Delayed
Is your child’s social development atypical? If you’re concerned about your loved one, you want answers. Is it autism? Learn five reasons why autism diagnosis may be delayed.

Your child may not be at ease with social communication. They may look away when you talk to them and be unresponsive. You might notice differences in their behavior when compared with other children their age. Where can you find answers? 

AMS Neurology, led by pediatric neurologist Dr. Charles Niesen, provides expert diagnosis and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders. We administer a comprehensive battery of tests to evaluate your child’s functioning and physical development and determine if they have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Early intervention is important. 

Not all children receive the battery of tests necessary to determine an autism diagnosis. Following are five reasons why autism diagnosis is often delayed. 

Your child receives another diagnosis first

Many children with autism spectrum disorder also have other disorders that present clear symptoms doctors treat first. ASD may only be discovered several years later. Many children with ASD are first diagnosed with ADHD. In fact, researchers estimate that 30-40% of children on the autism spectrum have ADHD. 

Many children with ASD also have sensory processing disorder. If your child can’t stand certain textures or foods, those symptoms stand out clearly and may mask other symptoms of ASD. 

Your child may be treated for ADHD or another disorder for a few years, only to find out they also have ASD. Those intervening years are important. 

Research shows that early treatment of ASD can yield significant benefits in terms of the ability to communicate with others. Our practice helps you learn how to incorporate training in social communication skills into your child’s everyday life, which enhances therapeutic work. 

Lack of resources to obtain a diagnosis

If your family struggles with finances, your child may not have been tested for ASD. Pediatricians don’t have enough time to do an in-depth assessment. Money for other testing and therapy is out of reach for some families. If services are available, many families may not be aware of them. 

We perform a comprehensive physical and developmental evaluation of your child to determine if ASD is the correct diagnosis. We interview you extensively to learn about the patterns of behavior your child exhibits at home. Teacher questionnaires gather data on your child’s functioning in a structured setting. 

Sex of your child 

Researchers think it’s possible that girls with ASD are underdiagnosed. Boys and men are four times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than girls and women. Some awkward social behaviors in girls such as shyness and difficulty in social situations may be seen differently than similar behavior in boys. 

Symptoms may not be apparent in high-functioning children 

Your child may be very intelligent and even in a school program for gifted children. High-functioning autistic (HFA) children may not be diagnosed early. If your child does well in school, certain awkward behaviors may be overlooked. 

If you have a high-functioning autistic child, they likely have issues making and keeping friends. They may only be interested and want to talk about a certain topic. They may have trouble with eye contact and have a hard time fitting in with a group. 

Parental denial 

You may have thought your child would grow out of certain strange behaviors. As your child enters school, you want them to fit in. You may feel having a diagnosis would cause your child to be labeled. As your child gets older, certain nonadaptive behaviors may become more entrenched if there are no interventions. 

Call our office at AMS Neurology or book an appointment online to discuss your concerns about your child. We help your child develop to their fullest potential.