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Diagnosis of autism in children

It can be difficult to adjust to what autism means for you and your family, but if you think your child may be on the autism spectrum, getting a diagnosis, and a better understanding of their needs, can be a positive thing.


Getting a diagnosis

The National Autistic Society provides comprehensive guidance on getting a diagnosis for your child.

The NHS provides a description of the diagnosis process.

You can read the NICE clinical guidelines, including Signs and symptoms of possible autism here

Here are some stories from parents about their experience of moving toward a diagnosis:

"Our son clearly had difficulties and something was not right, he needed help and this help a diagnosis of autism was a signpost to the type of help he needed." (Uttlesford Resident)

"We were aware that our child's speech was delayed for his age. He was referred for hearing test (all fine) and then speech therapy and a referral to a paediatrician. Not one of these professionals mentioned autism neither did the staff at his school nursery. Subsequently, one of our friends who asked whether anyone had mentioned the possibility of autism, after which we did our own research and felt this was a likely diagnosis."

"I didn't decide to get a diagnosis for autism, this was the appropriate clinical diagnosis for the symptoms and behaviour demonstrated, but i decided to explore this so that we could get the support and access to support and tools he needed to help with his future."

Source: Children and Young People with Autism Consultation Report,
Essex County Council, Co-produced with Southend Council and Thurrock Council, March 2016

If you are unsure about pursuing a diagnosis, it can still be a good idea to ask for a referral as you may have a long time to wait for an appointment. 

Getting an autism diagnosis for your child in Essex

Make an appointment with your GP (or health visitor in the case of young children). 


Take along a list of behaviours and characteristics that make you think your child is autistic 

Diagnosis and eligibility for support

You can apply for benefits and support for your child whether or not they have an autism diagnosis.

Your child may be entitled to:

  • community care - the national Autistic Society provides more information on this 
  • extra help at school - the national Autistic Society provides more information on this
  • benefits - the national Autistic Society provides more information on this

As a parent/carer, you may also be able to claim Carer's Allowance.


Advice and support

This page has details of support groups in Essex.

The National Autistic Society Autism enquiry service provides impartial, confidential information along with advice and support for autistic people and their families and carers.

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