Sinclair Cares: The processes of diagnosing kids with autism


Sometimes diagnosing kids with autism isn't so apparent at first.

Candi Spitz is the mom of 10-year-old twin boys, Brendan and Jaden.

"The doctors used to remark about how strong they were, how advanced they were. They were walking, talking eating playing... everything early," she said.

But that changed when they were 17 months old.

"There were no expressions in their bodies. You would waive their hands, tickle, giggle anything you could do to get a reaction, and they were blank."

The slowdown in development was first step in diagnosing the boys with autism.

The Centers for Disease control and prevention found many children with autism are not being diagnosed as early as they could be.

Even though, autism can be diagnosed as early as age two, most children are diagnosed at age four.

The lag negatively affects how and when families get the services they need.

"You see the whole gamut. There is not one specific, cookie cutter diagnosis for autism," said Dr. Norina Ocampo.

Dr. Ocampo is a pediatrician in south Florida who specializes in diagnosing and treating the developmental disorder that makes it difficult for people to socialize and communicate.

"There is no blood test to diagnose autism," Ocampo said. "It is basically developmental screenings and family histories and observations of the parents."

Dr. Ocampo says doctors continue to rely on a checklist to diagnose autism but the questions have changed. The new questions pinpoint behavior in greater detail because every patient falls on a different point of the autism spectrum.

For an example, doctors want to know specifically how your child asks you for something.

Today, Brendan and Jaden are primarily non-verbal and embrace technology to help them communicate.

"He'll take videos of whatever is going on his surroundings," said Candi. "That's usually how I know if he is sad, happy or whatever it happens to be."

Today, Candi celebrates different types of milestones looking… ahead to a bright future.

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