Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people behave and interact with the world around them.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people behave and interact with the world around them.
beginning of content

Diagnosis of autism

2-minute read

It can be stressful and worrying for parents to learn that their child has autism. But the earlier a diagnosis is made, the sooner the best support and treatments are put in place to get the best outcome for your child.

A diagnosis is usually made by a qualified specialist, such as a paediatrician, or via a comprehensive assessment performed by a team of specialists. This may include a paediatrician, psychologist or psychiatrist and sometimes a speech pathologist. The specialists will meet and watch the child to assess his or her communication skills, ability to interact socially and general behaviours.

Clinicians use a set of standard tests to make a diagnosis. They will see if the child has certain behaviours and social responses.

The umbrella term ‘autism spectrum disorder’ (ASD) now describes all levels of autism, from those individuals requiring support (level 1), those requiring substantial support (level 2) and those more severely affected and requiring very substantial support (level 3).

Children can usually be diagnosed at around two, but sometimes symptoms are subtle and children are not diagnosed until they start school or even until they become adults.

If your child is diagnosed with autism, you will be guided through the various treatment options. There are education programs and support services, from a number of organisations such as Autism Spectrum Australia, available for children with autism and their parents or caregivers.

Personal stories - video

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2018

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Diagnosis - Autism Awareness Australia

The assessment and diagnosis of autism is complex and so are the emotions and issues that arise with it. Here is a look at the practical aspects of what is involved in the diagnostic process, what to expect and how to ensure that you are receiving the best assessments possible and from the right professionals

Read more on Autism Awareness Australia website

Signs and diagnosis of autism in adults - Autism Awareness Australia

As an adult, pursuing a diagnosis is a personal choice. Its important to remember that it can be a very positive and helpful thing. Most autistic adults say it has helped them to understand their own difficulties, and abilities, and can often bring a sense of relief.

Read more on Autism Awareness Australia website

Girls and Autism - Autism Awareness Australia

Girls with autism can and often do present quite differently to boys, which can make getting a proper diagnosis frustrating. Here are some signs that are quite common in girls with autism.

Read more on Autism Awareness Australia website

Causes of autism - Autism Awareness Australia

Causes of autism Home > Could it be autism? > Causes of autism When a loved one is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, it is natural to ask why

Read more on Autism Awareness Australia website

Children with additional needs: feelings | Raising Children Network

If your child gets a diagnosis of disability or ASD, you might feel overwhelmed. Here’s how to manage your feelings about your child’s additional needs.

Read more on website

Understanding autism - Autism Awareness Australia

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects how people communicate and interact with others. The term "spectrum" is used to emphasise that autism presents differently in every single person.

Read more on Autism Awareness Australia website

Early Intervention: The Options - Autism Awareness Australia

If your child is diagnosed with autism when they are very young then your family has a golden chance to implement an early intervention program.

Read more on Autism Awareness Australia website

Early signs of autism in toddlers - Autism Awareness Australia

Spotting the early signs of autism in toddlers can be hard if youre not an autism expert. Many of these signs are common to all young children but they are seen more often in children who have autism.

Read more on Autism Awareness Australia website

Helping Children with Autism: a guide | Raising Children Network

The Australian Government’s Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) package helps you get services and support for your child with autism in areas not yet part of the NDIS.

Read more on website

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) | Novita

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterised by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, a restricted repertoire of activities and interests, and repetitive and stereotyped behaviour

Read more on Novita Children's Services website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo