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Who diagnoses autism?

In Western Australia, diagnosis for children under the age of 12 is made by a multi-disciplinary team including a paediatrician, psychologist and speech pathologist. These professionals use a range of methods to gather information about a child and their strengths and challenges to assess if they meet the criteria for autism. 

How is Autism diagnosed?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition (DSM-5) contains information on the diagnostic criteria for autism. Although diagnosis is always made in reference to the criteria contained within the DSM-5, currently the process of receiving the diagnosis differs in each state across Australia. The Telethon Kids Institute Autism Research Team has recently completed a large project to create a National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism. This will create a national standard for the diagnostic process as well as minimum skills and experience required for professionals involved in the diagnostic process. If the guideline is approved and recognised by Australian government departments, CliniKids will be one of the first providers to adopt it – hopefully increasing access to high quality diagnostic services and decreasing waitlist times. 

What happens at the assessment?

The assessment process includes detailed discussion with the child’s primary caregivers to gain information about their early development and skills, as well as a direct assessment or observation with the child to assess the way in which they interact, engage, play and communicate. At CliniKids, our experienced psychologist and speech pathologists will work with your child’s paediatrician to complete an autism assessment and provide information on the supports your child may require. The assessment will be completed across two to three sessions in our Subiaco clinic. Our clinicians may also complete a school or child care visit to ensure they have a good understanding of your child’s skills with their peers and in a different environment.

What should I do if I am concerned about my child?

The first step in accessing an autism assessment for your child is to receive a referral from your general practitioner to see a paediatrician (unless you already see a paediatrician). Your paediatrician may then refer you for an autism diagnostic assessment. To access an autism assessment, you can choose to go through the public or private systems.  Assessments through the private system will incur a fee, however there may be a shorter wait time than assessments through the public system. Your paediatrician will be able to discuss assessment options with you. 

If you are concerned about your child or if you would like to access our diagnostic services, please contact us for more information.