So, in my last post, I talked about the reason behind going forward for an autism diagnosis. If you have not read that yet, then maybe start at that post first - Why did we think our son had Autism. So, in this post, I wanted to talk about how was our son diagnosed with autism. The process behind that and how they come back with an autism diagnosis.
So, we had been to the health visitor/nurse and got a referral. This went off to the CDC (Child Development Center) here in Poole, which is where most, or all, the child development experts are based. So, for example, you have your speech and language, sensory development, OT, educational therapy, pediatrician, plus others (such as music therapy).
So, the referral goes off. You then go onto the waiting list for space. The thing is, they only do four children at a time. The children have to be around a similar age and have close or similar symptoms. This took about 5 or 6 months from when the letter went off to when we had our first session.
So, you get your sessions. How it worked for us is, it happens over 4 sessions. The first 3 sessions are where they work with the child and the fourth session is where they give any diagnosis.
So, let me talk about the first 3 sessions, to begin with. Ok... So... For us, it went like this. There were 3 sessions over 3 weeks. We took little Mr. to the CDC. We went into a large room with the other 3 sets of parents and kids. So, 4 children in total. All around similar ages; so 2.5 to about 4 years.
In this room, first off, was a load of toys and interactive items. These were there, so that, the experts could work with and observe the kids in action. To that point, the people that were there to diagnose did change each week. Well, not all of them, but half of them.
Each week, the same key members were there, but, for example, one week there would be speech and language, the next maybe OT, then a combination and so on. For the 3 weeks, they try and get as many experts in to watch and do the diagnosis. The idea is, to make sure they have a complete idea of your child.
Doing it by observation must still be partly tricky. Obviously, they know traits and what to look for. It's not like they can take a sample of blood and say 'Yes' your child is on the spectrum. So they observe. They interact and they monitor.
This happens both inside the room, then for a short period, outside in a small play area too. They take notes. They change the session, so have a play time, circle time, snack time and so on. For one and half hour of the session, they mix and change it up as much as possible.
The three sessions go by, then at the end of it they tell you about the fourth session and that it will take a few weeks as they have to go over notes, talk with others about what they saw and so on. You can imagine that they need to take their time to give as best a diagnosis as possible.
So, a few weeks past and we had our fourth session arrive. So, again we go off to the CDC. Now, unlike the first 3 sessions, the 4th session is just you. The other 3 sets of parents have their own separate 4th session - this is because it's a personal thing. Now, we don't know if the other parents had the same diagnosis or not.
So, we go off to the CDC and this time the session is just with the pediatrician. This was the same doctor that would be looking after and meeting with us until little Mr. went to school - he has a different doctor now that is associated with his school.
So, we meet with the pediatrician and then, first this, she tells us the diagnosis - in our case, it was little Mr. is on the spectrum. She asks if we ok with that, they do this all the time so they know that some parents get upset. For us, we explained that even with a diagnosis he was still the same boy. He had not changed. This meant, though, that we could not get help in giving him the support he needed. We were happy, in a sort of way, because we could get him this support now.
The meeting lasted around 30 minutes in total. We get some details on the diagnosis. Some details on how we progress from there. Details on things for support. Referrals for things such as speech and language. It's quite a whirlwind from that point, to be honest.
Ok, so was all about 'How was our son diagnosed'. What I will be putting together next, is some of the things that happened after this. I hope that this gives some insight if you're waiting on a list now. This could be different from area to area but will have quite some similarities I would have thought. If you have any questions or something you want to share - then why not leave us a comment below. We read all of them and respond when we can.