1. Talk to someone for advice
If you or your child have signs of autism, the next step is to talk to someone about it.
You could speak to:
- a GP
- a health visitor (for children under 5)
- any other health professional you or your child see, such as another doctor or therapist
- special educational needs (SENCO) staff at your child's school
Ask them if they think it's a good idea to refer you for an autism assessment.
An assessment is done by autism specialists. It's the only way to find out if you or your child are autistic.
Tips for when you speak to someone
- write a list of the signs of autism you think you or your child have and bring it with you
- ask people who know you or your child well (like friends, family or teachers) if they have noticed any possible signs you could put on your list
- bring a pen and paper so you can take notes
- bring your child or someone who knows you well with you if you think it might help (you do not have to)
- try not to talk too much about other things – autism should be the main thing you talk about
2. Have an autism assessment
An autism assessment is where a team of autism specialists check if you or your child are autistic.
An assessment team may:
- ask about any problems you or your child are having
- watch how you or your child interact with other people
- speak to people who know you or your child well, such as family, friends, your GP or your child's teachers
At the end of the assessment, you'll be given a report saying if you or your child are autistic.
How a diagnosis can help
Parents and children
For parents and children, a diagnosis can help you:
- understand your child's needs and how you can help your child
- get support for your child at school
- get support for parents and carers, such as financial benefits
- understand that your child is not just being "naughty" or "difficult"
For adults, a diagnosis can help you:
- understand why you might find some things harder than other people
- explain to others why you see and feel the world in a different way
- get support at college, university or work
- get some financial benefits
If you find it hard to get diagnosed
It's not always easy to get an autism assessment. Waiting times can also be very long.
If you're finding it hard to get an assessment, you could:
- ask to speak to someone else, like another GP – this is called getting a second opinion
- call the National Autistic Society helpline on 0808 800 4104 – they can give you advice about your options, including private assessments
It may also help to speak to other people who have been in a similar situation.