The central theme of this presentation is diagnosis and assessment of autism spectrum disorders. Diagnosis is a clinical endeavour, made by experienced clinicians with knowledge of the features of ASDs. The latter are defined in behavioural terms and fall into three major categories: social, communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviours.
Whereas diagnosis is a means of classification, and captures a child’s presentation in a more global way, an important goal of assessment is to document the child’s functioning in a more refined, detailed, and descriptive way for that individual. Assessment is aimed at not only identifying areas of vulnerability but also those areas that are strengths in the child’s profile. Both are relevant to treatment planning.