"There is nothing to fear if we know and understand"
Know How To Spot The Difference
Whether you are a first time parent or a parent with other children, spotting the difference in one of your child’s development can be difficult if you are uneducated with the typical child developmental stages.
Until you start noticing little subtle differences that become apparent deficits as time goes by. If you are like many parents that try and juggle a full or part time job the alarm bells don’t ring as quickly as they should.
The subtle differences that lead parents to a state of concern include the following:
- Lack of eye contact
- A disinterest in social interaction
- A delay in various motor skill areas
- Lack of/ delayed or even non verbal communication
- Challenging behaviour
Although you don’t need a clinician to notice your child has deficit areas, it is important to get a formal diagnosis to confirm your concerns and to bring the need for extra support for your child to consciousness.
Getting a formal diagnosis
Taken from the wonderful National Autistic society the information below will help you through the steps to get on your way
Step 1: speak to your GP or health visitor
If you think your child may have a ASD and you want to get a diagnosis, the first person to approach is your GP (or in the case of young children, you can also approach your health visitor).
When you go to see your GP or health visitor, you might like to take along a list of behaviours and characteristics that make you think your child has an ASD. This can be a good prompt during your appointment, ensuring that you talk about all the things that concern you.
If your child is pre-school your health visitor or GP may carry out a ‘screening interview’ called CHAT (Checklist for Autism in Toddlers). This will not give you a diagnosis, but it is a way of indicating whether your child may have an ASD.
Step 2: referral
Once your GP or health visitor is convinced of your child’s difficulties, your child should be referred for a formal assessment (diagnosis). You may have to wait some time before you actually go for the assessment (see also ‘Private assessment’, below).
Whatever age your child is, the assessment should be one that is appropriate for any child with a possible developmental problem, including an ASD.
Ideally, your child will receive a multi-disciplinary assessment – that is, an assessment by a team of professionals. The team might include, for example, a psychiatrist, a speech and language therapist and a clinical psychologist.
However, there may not be a multi-disciplinary team carrying out assessments in your area. If your child is referred to an individual professional that’s fine, but it’s important that the professional is experienced in diagnosing ASD.
If you know of an experienced diagnostician in your area, you can ask your GP or health visitor to refer your child to them.
The National Autistic Society lists an Autism Services Directory at www.autism.org.uk/directory that lists professionals who have told us they are experienced in diagnosing ASD. You can search for professionals near you by entering your postcode or alternatively, call our Autism Helpline on 0808 800 4104 who can search for you.
If you cannot get a referral to a professional who is able to diagnose ASD, or you aren’t happy with any other aspect of the referral process, you can make a complaint.
Some parents feel that they would rather pay for a private assessment. Often, this is because it reduces the waiting time.
The costs of private assessments can vary, so it’s a good idea to phone several services to ask about costs, what this pays for and whether any follow-up service is offered.
Occasionally, local authority departments such as social services and education have not recognised a private diagnosis. This means that a child cannot access services or support until they have an NHS diagnosis, too. For this reason, we suggest that you stay on the waiting list for an NHS assessment even if you also decide to go privately