What is Autism?
As the old saying goes, “when you meet one child with Autism, you’ve just met one child with Autism.”
There are about 100,000 children in the UK who are on the autistic spectrum. Each child is different. But in general terms your child might have problems relating to other people or find it tricky to feel part of everyday life. The range of abilities, skills, brilliance and need is so different for every child on the spectrum and that’s why Sky Badger has put everything you might ever need in one place.
Signs of Autism
Autism is tricky to diagnose before your child reaches 24 months but there might be signs in terms of some benchmarks not being met in how your little one communicates with smiles, expressions or gestures. You might also notice your child not making words by the time they turn 16 months, not responding to their name by their first birthday or loosing speech or social skills….but please don’t panic! Just contact your GP or health visitor and talk through your concerns.
When your child gets older signs of autism might include...
- Avoiding eye contact
- Delayed speech
- Getting really upset by changes in routine
- Being seriously obsessed with certain interests like Tomas the Tank Engine or Superheroes.
- Big reactions to sensory stimulus like smells, textures or lights.
- Having trouble understanding other people’s feeling
- Struggling with jokes or sarcasm
- Really enjoying repetitive behaviours like flapping, clapping and fiddling
But again, please don’t panic. Autism is complicated. Your child’s uniqueness might be just that. On the other hand, if they are on the Autistic Spectrum, there is a lot of help out there for all of you. A diagnosis doesn’t change your child. It just makes the way you parent better informed and more effective. If you’re worried, go to your GP or Teacher and ask that your child be tested.
If your child is at pre-school, you can ask your GP or health visitor to give your child the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT). This is a little test for children from 16-30 months. This doesn’t give your child a diagnosis but it will give you a better idea if you want to move forward to a proper assessment. If your little one is already at school, talk to your SENco. They are the teacher responsible for special needs at your child’s school and will chat to you about what getting a diagnosis means.
If your GP, health visitor or SENco thinks your child might have a problem, then they will refer them for a formal assessment. This should be a multi-disciplinary diagnostic assessment with lots of different specialists. You may also get support from am occupational therapist, speech therapist or educational psychologist during this process.
It may take a little while to get an assessment date.
The Autism Assessment
This might take a few different appointment. There will be a lot of paperwork involved including school/nursery reports, a physical exam, lots of cognitive, behavioural, developmental and mental health assessments, and full family history.
Ask lots of questions, its fine. Write them down in advance and take a notebook with you if anything pops up during or after the appointments.
There are different ways to diagnose children on the autistic spectrum but they will probably follow the following...
The results of the assessment might be complicated too so ask for clarification or further information. You are about to become experts after all and this is just the beginning of your journey.
With your diagnosis, you can start planning to get the support in place that your child needs. Speak to your SENco, GP or health visitor and get their opinions too. You might also be referred to your local Child Development Centre to specialist support and information.
You may just have had your child’s diagnosis or be years down the line. Either way, Sky Badger definitely has information you should know about. So if you’re looking for grants, IT advice, extra help at school, support for your other children, the perfect family holiday destination, communication aids or pretty much anything else….well, then you’ve come to the right place.
Check out our holidays section to find free, low cast and Autism friendly holidays. Try our finance section to find grants for IT or how to apply for DLA and don't forget to look at our education section to get help at school or sort out your child's EHCP. If you can't find what you're looking for, just contact our helpdesk and we'll always do our best to help.
Please look through the Sky Badger website to find your own bespoke package of support. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, then feel free to contact our helpdesk and we’ll do our best to find the right help at the right time for you and your whole family.
Here are some other organisations and charities that you might find useful too…
Ambitious about Autism
Ambitious about Autism is the national charity for children and young people with autism. They provide services, raise awareness and understanding, and campaign for change.
The National Autistic Society
Providing specialist help, information and care across the UK, depending on where you live, they provide information, residential homes, one-to-one support, support in your home, day-time hubs and support in further and higher education.
Autism UK provides training, research, a forum and lots more useful information.
Resources for Autism
Resources for Autism provide practical services for children and adults with an autistic spectrum condition and for those who love and care for them.
Autism Education Trust
The AET is a partnership of a wide range of individuals and organisations focused on improving the education of children and young people with autism from the voluntary, public and private sectors.
Research Autism is the only UK charity exclusively dedicated to research into interventions in autism. They carry out high quality, independent research into new and existing health, education, social and other interventions.
Not sure where to turn?
Contact our helpdesk
Do you need specific help for your disabled or special needs child? Click here to tell us more about what you're looking for and our helpdesk team will do their very best to find you what you need. All of our advice is confidential and we will not share your details or personal information with anyone.