What should I do if I think my child has autism?

If you think your child is displaying signs of autism, there is a process you can follow to get a diagnosis. A diagnosis means you can access more specialised support for you and your child.

Some parents decide against getting a diagnosis for their child. You can still help your child without one.

Autism: a small child looking into an aquarium with their hand on the glass

Find someone to talk to

To start with, there are a few professionals you can talk to about your child:

  • Your GP.
  • Your health visitor (for under-fives).
  • The special education needs coordinator (SENCo) at school or nursery.
  • Other professionals your child is working with. This may include any emotional and mental health support workers or a play therapist.

Prepare for the conversation

  • Speak to the professionals who have already worked with or seen your child. This includes staff at school or nursery such as teachers, the SENCo and nursery workers. You may also have seen family support workers or health visitors. Ask them to record their observations or write reports that you can take to your appointment.
  • Keep a behaviour diary. Make a list of the traits and behaviours that you feel may show your child has autism. Try to keep your focus on the specific traits and behaviours you have seen.
  • You can also talk to friends, to ask if they’ve noticed anything about how your child behaves.
  • Ask someone to come with you to talk to a professional about autism. It’s helpful having someone to take notes while you’re talking. That way, you have a record of what you discussed and agreed, plus any actions you decided together.
  • If you need extra support or guidance, visit the National Autistic Society website.

Your conversation with a professional may lead to a referral and an autism assessment.

Go back

How can I help when my child feels anxious?


Autism and mental health


Autism assessment: what you need to know


How can I support my child without an autism diagnosis?


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