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?

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Amy Nielsen lives in Orlando, Florida. She is the proud mother of four children ranging in age from 5-33! She and her husband, Brent enjoy sports and traveling. Amy is a former teacher with nearly 20 years of experience, a freelance writer, and a special needs advocate. Her mission is to help educate and empower families of children with disabilities to focus on their child's interests and strengths.