Autism Acceptance Month Day 3: How does a parent pursue an autism diagnosis?

If you have suspicions your child may have autism spectrum disorder, how do you find out?

First and foremost, contact your child’s pediatrician. Primary providers can usually run a general screening. You can also complete a parent screening called the MCHAT, Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers. Additionally, the Autism Navigator is an online resource where parents can learn the signs of autism and request a screening via their autism experts.

If any of these initial screenings point toward the potential for a diagnosis, the next step is to ask your pediatrician for a referral to a developmental pediatrician. They are pediatricians who are experts in children’s developmental milestones and can diagnose disorders such as ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as prescribe medications if needed.

Getting an appointment with a developmental pediatrician may take a while. Other providers who can also perform autism evaluations, such as child psychiatrists, psychologists, and pediatric neurologists, may not have as long a wait. But eventually landing with a developmental pediatrician is a good idea since they will follow your child’s development long-term. This is beneficial because the impacts of autism often evolve over time.

It can feel scary to start down this path. But just know, the diagnosis then opens up the resources your child needs for their optimal level of success!

Tomorrow’s question: What should a parent do after an autism diagnosis?

Published by

Amy Nielsen

Amy Nielsen is a former children's librarian of nearly twenty years. She now spends most of her time obsessively pounding on a keyboard. She is the author of It Takes a Village: How to Build a Support System for Your Exceptional Needs Family, Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her upcoming YA Worth it debuts in May of 2024. She is also a freelance writer for The Autism Helper. When she's not writing, she and her family are most likely crusing the waters of Tampa Bay.