The first step towards a diagnosis is to contact your general practitioner. Request a referral to a paediatrician who specialises in childhood development.
Once assessments have been completed, the team involved in the diagnosis will communicate their findings with each other and reach a decision. When diagnosing Autism, the team will use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), produced by the American Psychiatric Association.
The DSM lists the signs and symptoms of Autism and states how many of these symptoms must be present to confirm a diagnosis. During this time you can also speak to an Autism Advisor to guide you through this process.
If your child is already accessing services in the public health system, you may be referred to your local Child Development Services or the Department of Communities – Disability Services (previously Disability Services Commission) for an assessment. There may be a waiting period, however, the service is provided free of charge.
You can also seek a private assessment, which will require the payment of the clinician’s fees. These vary from practice to practice and some costs may be recoverable via Medicare rebates, such as the Helping Children with Autism Rebate or private health cover. Please see our Medicare Benefits Fact Sheet.
There is no single test available to diagnose Autism.
Diagnosis will be based on discussion with parents or other primary carers, a review of the child’s or individual’s developmental history and observation of the child’s or individual’s play and social interaction with others.
Commonly used assessments include:
- Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)
- Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised Edition (ADI-R)
- Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales
Once the information has been collected a decision is made whether the child meets the criteria for a diagnosis of Autism according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
Would you like to find out more about Autism? We provide research information, workshops and presentations and both online and printed publications to increase your knowledge and understanding of Autism. There is also a comprehensive online catalogue of Apps for Autism.
Once a diagnosis is received the person with Autism can receive specialist support and education. For example, the earlier a childhood diagnosis is made, the better the chances of a child and their family receiving appropriate help and support.
A diagnosis can help you learn more about Autism and equip you with the knowledge and skills to work alongside your child or loved one.
If you have any questions about how a diagnosis is reached, please contact us or book an appointment with one of our Autism Advisors.
We’re here to help you while you’re waiting for your child to be assessed for a diagnosis of Autism. Our friendly, supportive staff at any one of our First Steps for Autism Early Intervention Centres can meet with you to talk about your child, and give you advice on how to provide support during this time.
Our Parent Support Groups, run weekly in Fremantle, Floreat, Middle Swan and Australind are free for parents and carers of children who are diagnosed with Autism, or waiting for an assessment. Parents can bring siblings along, with our experienced therapy assistants available to play with the children while you have a coffee and a chat amongst families who share similar experiences to you.
We also run no cost Early Days Workshops, a series of workshops for parents and carers to learn more about Autism. The workshops can also cater to grandparents, and there are also workshops just for dads. Workshops are run throughout the year across all of our First Steps for Autism centres.
You can also participate in our Early Interaction Family Sessions. This includes six, two-hour sessions, where the child and family participate in a range of play activities. Therapists work alongside parents to teach effective strategies to maximise the child’s communication and social engagement so strategies can also be used in the home setting.
Access to our Autism Specific Early Education Centre in Bedford is also available to children who are undergoing an Autism assessment.
To find out more, please contact us to speak to one of our helpful Autism Advisors.
You know your child best. If you have genuine concerns about your child’s development, seek further help. If your paediatrician doesn’t have any concerns about your child, but you’re still worried, get a second opinion.
Early detection and diagnosis are crucial for children to get the best start in life. If your child is showing any of the Signs of Autism, please speak to an Autism Advisor to understand the diagnostic process and how to best support your child.