I’m worried my child could have autism
Parents often worry that their child may be showing signs of autism in the early years. It is helpful to be aware that there is a big overlap in symptoms between autism and anxiety, and that anxiety is much more common. For example, anxious children will often enjoy repetitive play or behaviours as it can help them feel calmer and safer. They may also react badly to change, or appear to become obsessed with wearing certain clothes or doing things in a certain order.
The websites below explain a little more about autistic spectrum disorders and what other symptoms to look out for in young children e.g. problems with eye contact from an early age or speech delay. If you are worried, you should always seek advice from your GP who can help decide whether a referral might be useful. It’s also worth considering whether your child can hear and see clearly as this could be contributing.
- What to look out for in pre-school children Common signs of autism and when to seek advice
- Autism screening tool (Modified checklist for autism in toddlers = M-CHAT) : designed for children between 16 and 30 months of age. This is a simple set of twenty questions which won’t provide a diagnosis but may help you decide whether you need to speak to your GP. If your child does need referral, they will go on to have a much more detailed assessment. The link will take you to an interactive version of the M-CHAT.
- A family story describing first signs, diagnosis and what happened next
- Information on Autism and Asperger’s syndrome for parents from the Royal College of Psychiatry