What do I do if I Suspect My Child has Autism?

I think my child has autism what do I do?

Early Intervention

Early intervention can make a huge difference in a person’s life. The sooner intervention starts the better chance your child has at developing vital skills.

Below are resources in which you can utilize that may assist you in identifying early signs of autism and tracking your child’s developmental milestones.

Learn the Signs Act Early
Milestones Checklist
CDC Autism Fact Sheet

Diagnosis
If you suspect your child has autism you need to request an evaluation as soon as possible. Start by talking to your pediatrician, ask for a referral to see a developmental pediatrician or another specialist. You may also want to contact your local early intervention agency (for children under 3) or public school (for children 3 and older) to find out if your child qualifies for intervention services.

Because the disorder’s symptoms vary so widely, a child showing these behaviors should be evaluated by a multidisciplinary team. This team might include a neurologist, psychologist, developmental pediatrician, speech/language therapist, learning consultant or other professionals who are knowledgeable about autism.

Below are links in resources in beginning the evaluation process:
Diagnosis
School Evaluation
Medical Evaluation

 

I am an adult or I suspect my loved one who is an adult has Autism, what do I do?
Usually, doctors and developmental specialists diagnose autism during childhood, usually when the child doesn’t reach early childhood developmental milestones.  However, there are many cases where social and communicative characteristics of autism may go unnoticed until later in life or autism can sometimes be misdiagnosed with another condition that has similar symptoms. It is also common for a person with autism to have multiple coexisting (comorbid) medical conditions. In some cases these coexisting medical conditions make it difficult for doctors to identify the autism symptoms.

Diagnosis
Most commonly with adults, a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist will carry out the diagnosis. Clinician may use a variety of tools to determine whether or not you have autism. For an individual who is over the age of 18, the individual themselves may have to initiate and schedule the appointment, however, you may ask your parent, guardian or friend to accompany you. You may also get your loved one to sign a medical release of information, so that the clinician can speak directly to your parent/guardian.

After the Diagnosis
The Autism Society, Tidewater Virginia recommends scheduling a Autism 101 Meeting to discuss resources that may be available to you or your loved one. Click Here to Schedule an Autism 101 Meeting. In addition, we recommend that parents or individual with autism join a local support group of other individuals that may understand the diagnosis.
Having a diagnosis of Autism is not a death sentence and you should not be discouraged. Today there are networks of treatment providers, parents and community support in which can help individuals with autism and their families improve their quality of life.