Autism and Children

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There are many routes to an Autism diagnosis for children. This may include Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Health Visitors, Education Authority and GP or Pediatrician. Waiting lists for assessments vary across Trust areas. If you require support at the start of or during this process of assessment, please contact our Family Support team.  

There are also a number of private providers of assessment, diagnosis and services in Northern Ireland. Please consult our statutory services (Health and Social Care Trust) before engaging with any private practitioner or provider as resulting reports and recommendations may be considered invalid unless commissioned by the Statutory Sector directly. The private route may appear an attractive way to overcome lengthy waiting lists but unless the work is approved by your local Health Trust the result could be costly and frustrating for families. 

After a Diagnosis 

Directly after a diagnosis, many parents can feel insecure and uncertain about the needs of their child.  It is important to recognise that the period immediately following diagnosis is one of huge adjustments. As you gather more knowledge and understanding about Autism (and how if affects your child), your confidence will grow and with it the recognition that YOU are the greatest, all-round expert on your child.

Actively seek out people who are knowledgeable and consider what they have to say. Take time to look up suggested therapies and interventions and decide what is best for your family. Above all never lose sight of the individual child at the centre of any proposed therapy, strategy or intervention.

Autism NI have created a range of downloadable booklets to support parents on a number of topics: 

  • Autism (includes information on the characteristics of Autism and a range of developmental checklists for you to support your child)
  • Play (includes types of play, structured play, building attention, teaching pretend play)
  • Communication (includes Visual communication, positive routines, building two way communication, using motivators)
  • Interaction (includes Rules for easy interaction, eye contact, taking turns, encouraging interaction)
  • Daily Living Skills (includes dressing, mealtimes and toileting)
  • Behaviour (includes behaviour strategies, sleeping, obsessions, waiting and outings)

To access these booklets please click here.


Further information is also available through Family Support.