What is the focus of the physical exam for autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019
  • Author: James Robert Brasic, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Examination for patients with suspected autistic spectrum disorder may include the following findings:

  • Abnormal motor movements (eg, clumsiness, awkward walk, hand flapping, tics)

  • Dermatologic anomalies (eg, aberrant palmar creases)

  • Abnormal head circumference (eg, small at birth, increased from age 6 months to 2 years, [3] normal in adolescence [4] )

  • Orofacial, extremity, and head/trunk stereotypies (eg, purposeless, repetitive, patterned motions, postures, and sounds)

  • Self-injurious behaviors (eg, picking at the skin, self-biting, head punching/slapping)

  • Physical abuse inflicted by others (eg, parents, teachers)

  • Sexual abuse: External examination of genitalia is appropriate; if bruises and other evidence of trauma are present, pelvic and rectal examinations may be indicated

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