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Prospective Parents

Finding help when your child is diagnosed with Autism can be daunting. Please find below some frequently asked questions that we are asked by parents as well as links to some further resources which could help you with more information.


Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) is a condition that affects communication, social interaction, interests and behaviour; Asperger’s syndrome and childhood autism are included within this disorder. Many people with this condition also have learning difficulties and may need specialist care and education.

Another term for the condition is ‘neurodiverse’ (as opposed to people without autism being ‘neurotypical’). Autism is a group of similar disorders with varying degrees of severity, so the term autistic spectrum disorders (ASCs) is often used rather than autism. Autism is actually one form of ASC, other forms include Asperger’s syndrome and Rett syndrome.

The main symptoms start to develop in childhood from 3 years plus, although the impact of these may not be noticeable until a change in a person’s life such as a change of school.

There are around 700,000 people in the UK with autism – that’s more than 1 in 100. If you include their families, autism touches the lives of 2.7 million people every day.

Autism is a hidden disability, you can’t always tell that someone has it, some symptoms are more severe than others. There are four different groups of symptoms all of which usually occur in children with ASC. Children with Autism Spectrum Condition, previously known as Autism Spectrum Disorder may have the following difficulties:

  • Have little or no interest in other people- which can result in not having any real friends
  • Distant from others
  • Not understanding other people’s emotions, for example not realising when somebody is angry with them
  • Prefer being alone
  • Restricted and repetitive patterns of thought, physical behaviours and interests.

Children, young people and adults with ASC can also be affected with other health conditions such as anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or depression, but with the right kind of help and support, those suffering with this condition can become independent.

The exact cause of ASC is unknown but research suggests complex genetic and environmental factors are involved. In some cases, an underlying condition may contribute to ASC.

Make an appointment with your GP, take with you a list of behaviours and characteristics that make you think your child might be autistic.  Your GP will be able to refer you for a  formal assessment (diagnosis).

The assesment will involve a multi-disciplinary diagnostic assessment which means an assessment by a team of professionals including, for example, a paediatrician, a speech and language therapist and a specialist psychologist. This will help you to better understand your child’s needs.

If you are referred to an individual professional, it’s important that they are experienced in diagnosing autism.

Private diagnosis is an option, and can often reduce the waiting time. The costs vary, so it’s a good idea to phone several services to ask about costs and exactly what is included.  Be aware that some local authorities may not accept the results of private diagnoses, therefore it is advisable to stay on the waiting list for an NHS assessment as well.

The right education can make a real difference for children and young people with autism and is vital for their development and your peace of mind.

The local authority team that helped you through the diagnosis can give you great advice on what kind of school may be best for your child. But it is important to get out there and visit the schools to get a real feel for them. All of our schools would be happy to organise a visit for you to have a look around and really experiece what they can offer.  View our schools pages for contact details
Talk to your local authority or social worker, it is possible to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal within two months of the EHC plan being issued.

It is the role of the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s) to identify with you the services your child needs, however you may be required to contribute to other services that are above the statutory requirements set out within your child’s assessment.

We have listed some sites below that we hope you will find useful, however Options Autism cannot accept responsibility for the content on any of the sites listed below…

The National Autistic Society –
Autism Services Directory –
Autism Links –
Living Autism –
Asperger’s Syndrome Foundation – 
Asperger- – 
Research Autism –
Independent Panel for Special Education Advice –
SEN legal –
Advisory centre for education –
Canadda support group –
Hillingdon Autistic Care and Support –
Parent and Carer Council Shropshire –
Lincolnshire Autistic Society –
The All Wales Autism Resource –
The Sleep Help Institute –
Autism Wishes –
Autism Puzzles –

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