Early years children with autism

Support, information, courses and support groups for parents, carers and families

Getting a diagnosis

Key points

  • Signs of autism might be noticeable in infancy or early childhood.
  • If you are concerned about your child’s development, contact your GP or health visitor.
  • There are a number of services available that can support your child prior, during and after a diagnosis.

Getting a diagnosis to identify your child’s needs can provide access to some additional services to support them and you.

What to do if you are worried about your child’s development

See your GP or health visitor if you are concerned about your child’s development. 

If assessment for possible autism is required, your child will be referred to a specialist community paediatric service in Oxfordshire. Or if you live in an area supported by a different health authority they will also have their own diagnostic pathway and you can discuss this with your GP or health visitor.

How autism is tested

In some instances autism can be diagnosed from around two years of age. In the Oxfordshire Health Authority diagnosis involves a multidisciplinary assessment (MDA) from a team at the Children’s Hospital in Oxford.

The team usually includes a paediatrician, a psychologist and a speech and language therapist. It might also include other professionals such as an occupational therapist. There’s no single test for autism. Instead, an autism diagnosis is based on:

  • watching how a child plays and interacts with others. that is, how a child is developing now
  • interviewing parents
  • reviewing a child’s developmental history, that is, how a child has developed in the past.

What happens after the assessment

Following this assessment, the team will discuss the findings of the assessment and if appropriate a diagnosis of autism will be given. You and your doctor will be sent a detailed summary of the findings. This usually includes an assessment of your child’s language and cognitive abilities.