Parent's Corner > Diagnosis > Diagnosis Criteria

Autism Screening and Diagnosis

According to the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5), released in May 2013, an individual must show deficits under two broad categories:

1. Deficits in social interactions and communication
2. Restricted or repetitive patterns of behavior and interests

Some children have a severe form of ASD, lacking any language or social interaction skills, while others, who are considered high functioning, have moderate deficits in these areas.  Under DSM-5, ASD is further classified into three levels based on the severity scale.

The diagnostic criteria and categories in DSM-5 have undergone substantial changes from the previous version of DSM-IV. How the new DSM-5 will affect the diagnosis and prevalence measures of autism is a major concern of parents and professionals alike

In Autism Reading Room, a detailed comparison of DSM IV and DSM-5 diagnostic criteria is provided.

Key Points
  • ASD is characterized by impairments in social interaction, delays in communication, and patterns of stereotyped behavior.
  • ASD ranges from severe to mild.
  • An ASD diagnosis must meet strict criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
  • Children suspected of having ASD should be screened and diagnosed by trained professionals.

ASD can be diagnosed based on biomarkers in blood or urine samples.


To date, there are no laboratory tests for ASD diagnosis. Instead, ASD is diagnosed based on using an established set of behavior evaluations.

Read about other misconceptions.