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At what age is autism diagnosed? Who diagnoses it?

(20 Posts)
mamadadawahwah Mon 28-Feb-05 23:53:26

My son is two with a speech delay. He is only 2 with 3 or less words. The more i read about autism, the more i think he might have it.

Is it possible to diagnose autism at 2? Also can anyone tell me who exactly diagnoses this condition? Is it a neurologist, speech therapist or a whole host of people?

starting to really freak out.

ScummyMummy Mon 28-Feb-05 23:55:16

A paediatrician should diagnose. Sorry you're so very worried, Poor you. Have you got any services in place? Whereabouts do you live?

jabberwocky Tue 01-Mar-05 00:02:33

There are several MNers who have lots of good advice on this. Jimjams certainly and Coppertop I think? Keep bumping.

Chandra Tue 01-Mar-05 00:09:57

If you do a search in the Special Needs topics you will find plenty of info about diagnosis. You can also try this site

dinosaur Tue 01-Mar-05 10:26:24

Are you in the United Kingdom mamadadawahwah? I am, and my DS1's diagnosis of high-functioning autism was made jointly by a paediatrician and a clinical psychologist. A speech therapist cannot make a diagnosis (although a speech therapist may well assess a child as part of the diagnostic process) and neither can an educational psychologist.

I remember very well the stress and worry of reading about autism and being concerned that DS1 was on teh spectrum and I am sorry you are going through this. If you are in the UK you need to raise your concerns with your health visitor - if you haven't already done so - as that is the usual entrypoint to the system. If she tries to fob you off, be persistent.

The difficulty for both parents and professionals is that at two, it is very very difficult indeed - probably impossible - to predict exactly how a child will develop, even if they are on the autistic spectrum. In the summer when he turned two, DS1 had very little speech - didn't say mummy or daddy, for example - but he has really blossomed of late and is now doing well at mainstream school.

dinosaur Tue 01-Mar-05 10:28:43

Sorry I should have said that my DS1 got his diagnosis at the age of three and a half. It can and usually does take a very long time to get through the system. Three and a half is actually a pretty young age to get a diagnosis.

Davros Tue 01-Mar-05 10:32:16

Yes, my DS was dx at 2. People say how lucky we were to get an early dx but I don't agree with that. We had been waiting 9 months to see the Paediatrician and DS had clearly not been NT from birth. So, yes it can be done at that age and will depend on how obvious it is and your local system. You can always see someone privately to give the CDC a kick up the a**e!
I haven't had much time to MN in the last few days but I had seen a couple of posts from you mama.... and I had thought ASD I'm afraid.

coppertop Tue 01-Mar-05 10:33:38

My ds1 was diagnosed at 3.5yrs. He saw the Paediatrician for an initial visit and she agreed that it looked as though he was on the autistic spectrum. We were referred for a full assessment at the Child Development Centre. Ds1 saw a speech therapist, Psychologist, Occupational Therapist and Physiotherapist all in the same week. At the end of the week we all got together to discuss the results and ds1 was officially dx'ed by the Paediatrician at the same meeting.

We suspected that ds2 was on the autistic spectrum too. He saw the Paediatrician when he was 21 months old. He said that he thought it could be autism and again we went through the same assessment procedure. We'd been doing a lot of work with ds2 in the meantime and he was making good progress. The Paed said that it looked as though ds2 had a lot of traits but that he didn't want to give a dx just yet. Instead ds2 is going to be re-assessed at 3. In the meantime he is going to be treated as though he does have the diagnosis.

coppertop Tue 01-Mar-05 10:38:49

Forgot to add that I agree with Dinosaur about how much a child can change. At 2yrs ds1 didn't talk at all. When he started pre-school he still didn't speak, ignored the other children and wandered round in circles. At 4.5yrs he is doing well in a mainstream school with very little support. His language skills are now similar to those of the rest of the class. If he was re-assessed now he would still get the same diagnosis IMHO but I don't think it would be as easy to spot.

DaddyCool Tue 01-Mar-05 10:40:05

if a child is not saying many proper words by 2, is it really a big concern? Our DS is 20 mths and still can't say any proper words. he's says mama, dada and can identify stuff ie: we say 'where's the frog' and he'll point at it but we've been told for the past few months that all kids develop at a different pace and not to worry at all about his speech.

coppertop Tue 01-Mar-05 10:43:42

If a child is communicating with you in other ways, eg pointing, then it's not anything to worry about tbh. To give you a comparison, at 20 months ds2 had no idea that we couldn't read his mind. If he wanted something he threw himself on to the floor screaming and left us to guess what the problem was. In a way it was like having a young baby. He cried and we had to run through a checklist of what could be wrong.

dinosaur Tue 01-Mar-05 10:45:28

DaddyCool it is a "flag" for concern, but certainly in the absence of any other markers it is highly unlikely to indicate an autistic spectrum disorder.

Broadly, if you feel your DS is communicating with you, then even if he is non-verbal he is unlikely to have an ASD. My DS1 didn't communicate by pointing either. Instead he used to take adults by the hand and lead them to what he wanted and put their hands on it, sort of using the adult hand as a tool, which is very characteristic of ASD.

macwoozy Tue 01-Mar-05 10:52:55

My ds was diagnosed with being autistic just before he was 3, but my concerns started when he was about 2, he wouldn't really react to me as would be expected from a NT toddler, and he never pointed,spoke or waved. His nursery, with my backing, had a SENCO come to the nursery to watch him at play, and from there he was referred to a speech therapist and a physcologist. Six months later he was fully diagnosed. I know that it must be a very worrying time for you. But just got to say that when I recieved ds's first report, it was pretty dismal reading. But he's now nearly 5, and he's in mainstream, doing much better than I ever thought possible. Good luck

beccaboo Tue 01-Mar-05 10:58:33

mamadadawahwah, my ds was diagnosed in January, age 3years 1month. We were first concerned when he was 2 - like your son, he only had a few words. Also, he didn't point, had poor eye contact and under-developed play skills. He also did the thing that dinosaur has just described, guiding an adult's hand to what he wanted.

When he finally saw the speech therapist six months later he had more language, but a lot of it was phrases he was repeating from TV - he didn't always understand what he was saying.

He was diagnosed by a paediatrician and a speech therapist at our local CDC.

He has made a lot of progress in the last year and his speech is catching up - he is now talking in sentences, which I wouldn't have believed was possible a few months ago.

Davros Tue 01-Mar-05 11:08:34

Daddycool, agree with everyone that, as long as he is communicating then don't worry about words. My DD is 2 in a couple of weeks and doesn't have any clear words but some word-like sounds. But she does communicate and interact all the time. I could be freaking about her considering the ASD in our family but she is soooo different to DS at this age who had no eye contact, no attachment, no language and very few sounds at all other than the screaming as desrcibed before.

Jimjams Tue 01-Mar-05 12:25:51

I suspected autism at 17 months, somewhere around 2 and a halfish I knew for certain he was autistic, but he wasn't dxed until 3. He was on various waiting lists from 20 months.

Socci Tue 01-Mar-05 13:22:55

Message withdrawn

mamadadawahwah Wed 02-Mar-05 15:26:53

Thank you everyone for your responses. I now have had my son assessed by speech therapist (joke) and he is on the list to be seen by CDC in four months. he is attending a special needs playgroup with Barnardos and I am having him privately assessed shortly as well by a speech therapist. dont know if it is autism or what. Just wanted to say that I thank God, i am not 18, that I am older and wiser now and know how to "get through the system". Its obviously going to be battle.

Socci Wed 02-Mar-05 17:27:05

Message withdrawn

Jimjams Wed 02-Mar-05 18:06:11

snap socci- I joined an email list when ds1 was 2ish and realised with some horror a lot of his oddities were shared.

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