Suspecting your child has autism can be an emotional time for parents. This is especially true if you haven’t had much experience with autism spectrum disorder. That’s why we’re here to help. Here are three things you should do if you suspect your child has autism.
1. Learn more about autism spectrum disorder
Much of the fear around autism comes from a lack of understanding of what autism spectrum disorder is. The first thing you should do if you suspect your child has autism is to learn more about what the condition actually is.
Autism is generally thought to be a complex genetic disorder that affects early development. You can read more about autism spectrum disorder here.
Typically, children will display early warning signs that might indicate that they have a form of autism spectrum disorder, which typically relate to the way they communicate and behave with other people.
If your child isn’t reaching these key childhood developmental milestones [INTERNAL LINK TO BLOG], the next step you should take is to consult your healthcare professional.
2. Make an appointment with a health professional
As autism spectrum disorder means different things for different people, your healthcare practitioners are best equipped to assess whether your child has autism.
Early intervention is key to ensuring your child can live up to their full potential, so the earlier you make an appointment with a healthcare professional, the better. We suggest visiting your general practitioner as your first point-of-call.
If your GP doesn’t have any concerns about your child, but you’re still worried, it’s okay to seek out a second opinion. Psychiatrists, psychologists or paediatricians are a good next step to take. These healthcare practitioners have been trained in diagnosing autism spectrum disorder, and will be able to undertake an autism spectrum disorder assessment for your child and give you a diagnosis, if necessary.
If you’d like to seek a specialists’ opinion, you may have to get a referral from your GP first.
3. Learn about autism spectrum disorder services
Even if you haven’t made an appointment with a GP yet, it’s important to know that there are services available to help your child. There are many Early Intervention Programs , including one at the Lizard Centre, which can help your child build the essential skills they need to lead a happy, independent life.
It’s also important to know that there are means of support for you, the parents and carers of children with autism.
It can be difficult to know how to help your child, while managing your own emotions during the initial stages of ASD diagnosis. Some of the things you can do are:
- Talk to other parents of children with ASD by joining forums or parent groups
- Read about the experiences of other parents of children with ASD
- Start researching autism services in your local area
If you suspect your child has autism, remember that nothing is certain until diagnosis, and that even if your child is diagnosed with ASD, there is plenty of help available.
If one thing is certain, it’s this: while life with autism may be challenging for your child, it can also be
immensely rewarding and full of happiness – just like everyone else’s.