Autism Test – Testing For Autism In Children

Testing for autism with a basic autism test for everyone, similar to the common cold, just does not exist yet. Testing for autism in children and adults is difficult because each person with autism will have different signs and symptoms. There are even a low function and high functioning autism test.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple medical test that you can give your child in order to learn whether or not he is autistic.  These children are quite complex and a series of tests, questionnaires, and behavior analyses are needed in order to reach a diagnosis of autism.  Today there is a new genetic test that may be more effective in determining a diagnosis though.

Common Applications Of The ADOS

The ADOS is an open-ended assessment in which an examiner uses a series of situations and interview questions to elicit behavior and verbal responses from the individual who is being tested.

This assessment is used to tell the difference between a person who has Autism and a person who only has speech problems or another type of developmental delay.

It is also able to differentiate a person who has Autism from a person who is on the Autism spectrum and may have either Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD) or Asperger’s syndrome instead.

Age Ranges For The ADOS

There are different levels or Modules that are used.  These are based upon the verbal level of the person who is being tested, not their specific age.  They include:

  • Module 1 is used for a child who is nonverbal or uses very few words.
  • Module 2 is used for a child who uses some words but does not speak readily.
  • Module 3 is appropriate for children who can speak fluently.
  • Module 4 is used with adolescents and adults who can speak fluently.

It is important to note that both modules 1 and 2 do not rely upon the child’s ability to produce verbal communication.  Instead, they allow for various demonstrations of the child’s inherent ability.  At the same time, you should understand that both modules 3 and 4 rely upon interview questions, conversation and other measures of expressive language.

Even so, there is a module that is appropriate for people of almost all ages.  They are not appropriate for nonverbal adolescents and adults or children with nonverbal ages of less than 12 months though.  For these people, and expressive language test (i.e. the Vineland Adaptive Behavior scale) is more useful as it can help with assessing language levels.

Genetic Tests For Autism

Doctors who think that a child may have autism are now able to order 2 tests: Karyotype and Fragile X. Karyotyping.  These tests look for chromosomal abnormalities under a microscope.  Fragile X is a DNA test that is typically associated with mental retardation.  However, there is some occurrence of the fragile X chromosome in some children who have autism.  Therefore, this is something that is currently being used in diagnosis.

Chromosomal Microarray Analysis Genetic Test (The CMA)

The newer test is CMA.  It is similar to the Karyotype test.  Both of them look for abnormalities but the CMA is more complex and complete.  While the Karyotype looks at chromosomes, the CMA test is able to actually look at molecular structures.  This is because it uses technology that looks at cells at 100 times the resolution of the Karyotype test.

Therefore it has the advantage whenever it comes to finding a lot more information.  It is also able to help parents know what their chance of having more autistic children are before they do so.  This is because this test not only confirms that a child has autism by looking at genetic factors but it can also be used to test parents in order to see if they have any of the genetic abnormalities present which may predispose a family to have a child on the autism spectrum.

However, since the cause of autism isn’t 100% known, this is not a guaranteed test.  Nevertheless, it could provide some helpful information to families.  More research still needs to be done on it but at least it is a step in the right direction.

New Research On Autism Tests

A new study was published in “Pediatrics” in April that showed that the CMA test is currently the most effective autism test to date.  There were 993 people who participated in this study.  While these people had already been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, they were still given the 3 genetic tests: Fragile X, Karyotype and Chromosomal Microarray Analysis.

The results showed that the CMA test was the most effective test whenever it comes to detecting abnormal genetic material detecting 7% of genetic abnormalities while the Karyotype only detected 2% of the abnormalities and the Fragile X only detected 0.5% of the abnormalities.  While these percentages are still quite low, it does offer hope to families who have a child with autism.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Each day, new tests for autism are being researched and discovered. One day, there may be a basic test for autism to see where in the autism spectrum on the patient may be. Until that day comes, more money, more education and more patience and understanding from parents is a must!