Diagnosis

Sometimes we may have questions about a diagnosis or our intuition tells us that the experts did not hit a diagnosis on target. For example, a dad and grandmother both agree that it seems as if their daughter diagnosed with autism should also have been diagnosed with apraxia. What are their options in this case?

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If family members or teachers or therapists recognize the symptoms or markers for a specific, undiagnosed condition, they can take any number of actions steps.
1. Learn more. Take time to read books and articles, research the topic on the internet, ask questions of experts, and talk to other individuals with the suspected diagnosis. The following is a link to a reliable, up-to-date resource addressing apraxia: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/apraxia.htm
2. Follow up. Talk to the professional who made the initial diagnosis about your observations, stating your concerns clearly and asking specific questions about diagnosis and treatment. Some people make the mistake of waiting until a professional brings up the topic. Don’t hesitate to speak up about any concerns or ideas.
3. Get a second opinion. If you feel strongly about the diagnosis, ask for a referral for a second opinion, or make an appointment with a diagnostic professional on your own.
4. Determine priorities. In some cases, we can spend more time, effort, and money chasing an official diagnosis than is practical. In the case of the daughter whose family members are concerned about language issues, apraxia is a language deficit that can occur in isolation, but is often paired with other conditions such as autism. If your daughter’s language deficits are recognized on her IEP (Individualized Education Plan), and if her therapists and teachers are following strategies that address those deficits, then it may or may not be necessary to receive an official diagnosis.

The good news is, regardless of the actual diagnosis on paper, there are many things you can do at home to enhance a youngster’s receptive language and expressive language. So, whether you pursue an official diagnosis for apraxia or not, so what you can to enrich and encourage receptive language and expressive language. Meanwhile, Talk to your daughter in casual conversation when in the car, at meals, while folding towels, and while swinging on the front porch. Wait for answers. Don’t try to fill all the silences. Don’t talk for her. Read, read, read. And generally fill each day with adventure.

We welcome your experiences related to symptoms and diagnosis. Just click on the comments button or send an e-mail to talk@FAQautism.com.

NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At FAQautism.com we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me an email with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. Send email to talk@FAQautism.com And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism. http://FAQautism.com

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