Have you ever wondered if your child has autism or if are they ‘on the spectrum’? Has your GP or Paediatrician asked for an ASD Assessment?
What is autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neuro-developmental condition that affects how someone interacts with other people and their world, as well as the way they think and feel. It’s estimated that 1 in 70 Australians are autistic. Many people think of autism as being on a linear spectrum, but it’s not that straightforward. Every person’s experience is different, with different strengths and weaknesses. For more information, see Autism Spectrum Australia.
What are the symptoms of autism?
Although everyone’s experience of autism is unique, there are a few common signs that may indicate your child has autism. Some of these behaviours or autistic traits can be observed by families at a very young age, even at 12-18 months old.
- Difficulty communicating
- Narrow interests
- Repetitive behaviour
Your child may find it difficult to make and/or hold eye contact. They may also interpret language very literally, and find it hard to interpret social cues and other people’s behaviour.
Many autistic people have very strong interests in one particular subject. Or if they are a young child, they may only play one one particular type of toy.
It’s common for autistic people to show repetitive behaviours such as hand flapping, body rocking, or to make repetitive noises.
You may also find your child is particularly sensitive to sound, taste, touch or light. They may also show a preference for routine, and find change difficult to cope with.
Boys are diagnosed with autism at a much higher rate than girls, and it’s thought that this may be due to a bias in diagnosis tools, as well as a tendency for girls to mask their symptoms. Learn more.
What causes autism?
There is no known cause for autism. Scientific research suggests that there may be brain development and genetic factors. Autism is not caused by parenting or social factors, or medical causes (e.g. vaccinations).
Is autism a disability?
The NDIS classifies ASD as a disability, and in fact it’s the largest category eligible for disability funding. In order to get support under the NDIS, you will need an autism diagnosis from a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist such as the team at Relational Minds.
Autism assessments: Melbourne, Woodend and Mildura
At Relational Minds we undertake the assessment and diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder at our clinics in Sunbury (Melbourne), Macedon Ranges (Woodend) and Mildura.
We take autism assessments very seriously, as identifying the problems is crucial to get help and support (e.g. NDIS funding). However, we have to ensure that the child’s symptoms can’t be explained by other factors.
The assessment process is completed by a multidisciplinary team of professionals, consisting at least of a child psychiatrist and a registered psychologist. A diagnosis is made by matching information from your child’s developmental history and current behaviour to the criteria described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5).
These criteria focus on the following three areas:
- Reciprocal Social Interactions
- Restricted, Repetitive, and Stereotyped Behaviours and Interests
You may be asked to complete some initial screening tools. These tools will include:
- Social Responsiveness Scale, 2nd Edition (SRS-2)
- Developmental Behaviour Checklist Version 2 (DBC 2)
A speech and language assessment (specifically a Pragmatic Language assessment) is the first step required. If you require a recommendation for a speech pathologist who can do this assessment, please contact us. The assessment team will then complete the diagnostic assessment by conducting observations, interviews and administer other assessments.
Ready to make an appointment?
You can call or use webchat if you are feeling suicidal, are affected by suicide or are worried about someone who you think is considering suicide to get support and help. The web chat option does require you to register and create a password, so there are a few steps to this in case this may add to your overwhelm.
If you’re experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide:
The Lifeline phone line is available 24/7. Their text line is open midday to midnight and requires you to answer some pre-survey questions to register to use the service. Text: 0477 13 11 14 Webchat is available 7pm-midnight and can be anonymous, there are questions, but they are not mandatory to answer.
For all ages.
If you have difficulties relating to your gender or sexuality, the Q-life service may be able to help.
Q-Life is a free anonymous phone or webchat service run by Switchboard. The service is open 3pm – midnight every day. They do not offer ongoing counselling, rather they can offer support regarding any issues you are having related to gender or sexuality that you would like to discuss anonymously.
- 1800 184 527
- www.switchboard.org.au/qlife for online chat