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I was a school last term observing a young client of mine during recess when an education assistant came up to me and asked whether “8 years old” was too late for an autism assessment.
As some of you will know, I will see children and families at the Centre for autism assessments. I often get asked this question. The good news is that it is is never too late for an autism assessment. Children, adolescents and adults can be seen for assessment at any time. Research compels us though to advocate for early assessment as this usually leads to early intervention. It also gives us a chance to talk to families of children who don’t receive a diagnosis about next steps and supports.
An assessment can happen at any age. The advice that I give to families though is that if you intend to seek an assessment it’s best to time your assessment before the child turns 12 years of age. Aside from an easier assessment process, it also allows time to plan for issues such as transition to high school.
Whenever a parent decides to request an assessment keep in mind that parents play an active part in the process. You know your child better than anyone else and the assessment team will want to partner with you in understanding your child strengths and weaknesses.
Referrals for assessment usually start with seeing a paediatrician. Your GP will need to refer you to either the appropriate government service or a private paediatrician. Wait-lists will vary according to the age of the child – which is another reason not to leave assessments too late!