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

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

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

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

  • Your GP;
  • Your Health Visitor (for under 5s);
  • 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.

Some parents decide not to get a diagnosis for their child. You can still help your child without one. You can discuss your feelings with these professionals. They can help you with the decision to refer your child for a diagnosis.

How should I prepare to talk to a professional?

  • Keep a behaviour diary. Make a list of the traits and behaviours that you see which you feel might show your child has autism.
  • Talk to all the professionals, and even friends, who have already worked with or seen your child. This includes staff at school or nursery such as teachers, the SENCo and nursery key workers. It might also be any family support workers or health visitors you see. Ask them to record their observations or write reports that you can take to your appointment.
  • Ask someone to come with you. It’s helpful having someone to take notes while you are talking. That way, you have a record of what you discussed and agreed upon, plus any actions you decided together.
  • Try to keep your focus on the specific traits and behaviours you have seen.
  • If you need extra support or guidance, contact the National Autistic Society. They provide a helpline for parents. You don’t need an autism diagnosis before you can contact them.

Your conversation with a professional may lead to a referral and an Autism Assessment.

Go back

Talk to us

Free and confidential live chat with parenting staff. Chat online or request a call back when it’s convenient for you.

Chat icon on mobile phone