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How we diagnose Autism

So autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed based on a set of features. These include social communication and language impairment, lack of joint attention, and repetitive behaviors. There are also a number of other features that we often see in children who have autism. But these are not included in the formal criteria for diagnosis. These include feeding difficulties. Some kids with autism only like to eat yellow, tan, brown, or white foods, such as rice, bananas, chicken McNuggets, french fries, etc., Some children are with autism are hyperactive. Some are hypoactive or hyporesponse. You try to get their attention and they're very slow to respond. They'll only respond to very large movements. If you're throwing them up in the air, things like that. Some children are very hyperactive. They're always running around and you can't get them to slow down. Some children with autism have gastrointestinal issues. These could be diarrhea, constipation, or symptoms such as those. Some children have difficulty with play, which is part of the social communication aspect that's part of the formal diagnosis. But there's a broad spectrum of behaviors that children with autism exhibit, only a few of which are necessary for the formal diagnosis.

Signs of autism vary and symptoms can manifest differently for each child. Jane Tavyev Asher, Director of the Division of Child Neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, discusses some ways doctors use to evaluate if your child has autism.


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Jane Tavyev Asher, MD

Division of Child Neurology - Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Dr. Jane Tavyev Asher is a board certified Child Neurologist and Director of the Division of Child Neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.  Upon attaining her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine, she completed residency/ fellowship training in Child Neurology and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities at Baylor College of Medicine/ Texas Children’s Hospital, where her clinical training focused on behavioral neurology, specializing in autism and other developmental disorders, and her research focused on epigenetic factors in autism.  She currently maintains a clinical practice at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where she sees patients with a variety of neurologic conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, developmental delay, ADHD, learning disabilities, tics, headaches, and cognitive/ behavioral management in neuromuscular disorders.  She holds an academic/ research appointment as Assistant Professor at UCLA in the Departments of Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences.  Her current research interest remains in the area of autism.  Dr. Tavyev Asher is proud to contribute to the training of the next generation of physicians including those specializing in Pediatrics, Child Psychiatry, and Child and Adult Neurology, and she enjoys giving talks on various neurologic topics locally and nationally.  She is a member of the Child Neurology Society, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, UCLA CART (Center for Autism Research and Treatment), and The Help Group-UCLA Autism Research Alliance.  She also serves on the Advisory Board of Healthy Child Healthy Child Healthy World.  She enjoys art, music, yoga, skiing, and relaxing with her family.

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