What to Do If You Think Your Child Has Autism
- Get an evaluation.
Take your child to an expert in autism. Ask your pediatrician or local hospital if they can recommend someone in your region who has extensive experience in this field (such as a developmental pediatrician, speech-language pathologist, psychologist, or special educator). If it is recommended that your child be evaluated further, contact your local department of health or education. Your child will be seen by a team of experts, which may include a speech-language pathologist, psychologist, occupational therapist, special educator, and behavior therapist. These experts will work with you to determine if your child has autism, and if so, how to begin teaching your child.
Find out more about educational evaluations: Special Education Evaluation: What Parents Should Know and Ask
- Identify and use early intervention services.
Every state is required to provide early intervention services for children ages zero to five who are diagnosed with a disability, such as autism. These intervention services and supports may include speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, behavior therapy, and special education.*
- Network with other families and organizations.
Many families experience the same challenges as you. Reaching out to these families and networks can be an excellent source of information and support. Ask your child's pediatrician or therapists if they can recommend any support groups, contact your local school district, or search the Internet.**
*For more information on intervention services, contact the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities, Autism Speaks, and Autism Society of America.
**Visit the Resources section to find more information on national support groups.
NEXT: Approaches to Autism