1. Make an appointment with a health professional
If you think your child has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it’s good to act quickly and make an appointment with a professional. For example, you could talk to your child and family health nurse, your GP or a paediatrician.
If the professional doesn’t have any concerns about your child, but you’re still worried, it’s OK to ask for a second opinion from another doctor. The sooner you find out your child has ASD, the sooner you can help him.
2. Learn about autism spectrum disorder services
Right away, even while you wait for an appointment, it’s good to start learning about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the different services available. There are lots of ways to begin:
- Talk to other parents of a child with ASD by joining forums or parent groups.
- Read information about ASD on this website.
- Start researching services in your area.
3. Get an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis
Have your child assessed for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and get an assessment report as early as you can. A thorough assessment is important for an accurate diagnosis. It helps to think of assessment as a benchmark or starting point – you can use it to measure your child’s progress later when your child starts using interventions.
For a thorough assessment and a specific ASD diagnosis, make an appointment with a professional trained in diagnosing ASD, like a psychiatrist, psychologist or paediatrician. You might need a referral from your child’s nurse or GP.
You can read more about getting an ASD diagnosis to help you understand how professionals diagnose ASD.
4. Start early intervention for autism spectrum disorder
The sooner a child gets early intervention for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the more effective these interventions are likely to be. Experts recommend early intervention for all preschool children with ASD – the earlier the better.
Some services like PlayConnect playgroups will let you start programs and therapies without a diagnosis. Or you might be able to get a place on a waiting list for services while you wait for your child’s formal assessment. And if your child needs services like speech pathology or occupational therapy, she can start these while waiting for the assessment.