Are the Current Diagnostic Tests for Autism Accurate?

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[MUSIC] The latest tests that are used in formal settings by qualified psychologists include the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule as well as the ADI. These are formalised tests that have been rigorously examined and reviewed and validated again and again. In the right hands these are very reliable, and the scoring for these diagnostic tests for autism, the ADOS and the ADI, the scoring for them takes into account the verbal capacity and the general intellectual level of the child, as well as the child's age.

So they're really adjusted to make sure that we're not just missing a child's, we're not thinking that a child has autism when in fact it's just a mild language delay, or not thinking that a child might have autism when in fact it's mild global cognitive delay. So there are ways of doing that are quite effective, and some autistic children as you know are really remarkable and they have visual special skills where they can build complex objects or do complex drawings, and yet don't seem to understand the simplest difference between fire Fire! Fire? So those are all differences that have to do with pragmatics, imputing of the intention of the speaker's words based on the emotional content with which that word is expressed, and you can have a child with autism who can do complicated visual special skills, and can't understand the difference between the sad, or the question, or the exclamation of the sentence.

So what we've discovered is very interesting, we've discover that the brain systems that make one ability, like the visual spacial ability happen, seems to be less effective and the brain systems that seems to be involved in the social communication and the affect of expression and understanding does seem to be strongly affected.

So the reason there is this apparent splitting or island of spared capability versus impaired capabilities, is the brain system they're affected are different. Some are spared and some are much more impaired. [MUSIC].