Autism can be diagnosed from 12-18 months, but it’s usually from around 2 years of age.
Diagnosis usually involves many specialists and professionals testing and assessing a child – this is called a multidisciplinary assessment.
A multidisciplinary team usually includes a paediatrician, a psychologist a speech pathologist and sometimes a psychiatrist. It might also include other professionals, like an occupational therapist, teacher, or social worker.
These professionals might assess a child together at the same time and in the same place. Or they might do individual assessments over a period of time in different places. If the assessment happens this way, the professionals will share and discuss their observations.
There’s NO SINGLE TEST for autism. Instead, diagnosis is based on:
- watching how children play and interact with others – that is, how children are developing now
- reviewing children’s developmental history – that is, how children have developed in the past
- interviewing parents.
Children will get a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. The diagnosis will include support levels, which range from ‘requiring support’ to ‘requiring very substantial support’. These levels show how much help children need with their social-communication skills, and restricted, repetitive and/or sensory behaviours.
Health professionals will also assess children’s language and cognitive abilities.
Children who show difficulties only in social communication might be diagnosed with social communication disorder, rather than autism spectrum disorder.
If you’re concerned about your child’s development, talk to your doctor or therapist about a developmental assessment. Getting an assessment and diagnosis is the first step to helping your child and getting services and programs suited to your child’s needs.
It’s important to get help and support as soon as possible. Early intervention with therapies and supports is the best way to help autistic children develop and thrive. That’s because they can help autistic children learn the skills they need for everyday activities. Sometimes children who get early intervention need less or no support as they get older.