Monday, March 29, 2010

Could it be Autism?

One of the things that continues to astound us is how young everyone tells us Alanna is to be in intensive intervention.  She's currently 28 months, about 2 1/3 years old.  She started at about 23 months, just before she turned 2 years old.  In Ontario's Autism Intervention Program, Alanna is currently the youngest child on the waiting list for subsidized services in my city, and there is only one younger in the region.

Why is this?  It's because diagnosis is long and painful.  Autism is commonly not detected by medical professionals in a timely fashion, and even when it is, the referral process takes too long in Ontario.  If we had waited for the diagnosis, we would still be waiting just to confirm Alanna had autism.  Some professionals won't diagnose children as young as 18 months, even though it can be done, especially for children who are moderate or severe.

You can obtain a diagnosis privately.  It's not cheap (around $2000), but it will save you at least a year of waiting.  If you cannot afford private ABA therapy, consider investing in a private diagnosis.  You may even be able to find a private psychologist who will give you a break if you provide proof you've tried everything you can to raise funds for the diagnosis.  You can also write off this cost on income taxes.  If you have health insurance at work, they will also probably cover at least some of this cost.

For Ontario parents:

If you are a parent and suspect your child may have autism, do not waitIf you wait for the public system your child may be school age before they get intervention, and will fall farther and farther behind.  Meanwhile, you will be left to deal with your child's behaviour with little support in the meantime.  Find a way to get your diagnosis as quickly as possible.  Make it a priority; you will be glad you made the sacrifice later.  If you need help finding a psychologist who can help, let me know, I will do my best to help you find one to get you the diagnosis you need to start accessing services.


  1. Getting the diagnosis is so important. We suspected autism when my daughter was two, back in 1991. My sil who is an SLP helped us figure this out. She didn't officially diagnosed until she was six, but we assume that if it walks like a duck . . .

    The good news is that it is never too late to start intervention. When she was 15, we stumbled upon the association method which helped her aphasia: she was finally able to put words together so as to make sense. Then, at 18, we stumbled onto RDI, and more progress! Yippee!

  2. I totally agree that early detection and dx is so important. We (or rather, "I", since my hubby was in denial) suspected something was wrong around 1yr of age when our son was not babbling, pointing or showing consistent eye contact. Otherwise he was a very happy and laid back baby. Our ped thought I was nuts. He actually told me I was depressed. However, I could tell that he was slightly different from others his age. I pushed for a referral to a developmental ped and our regular ped reluctantly referred us to an excellent dr in TO. At 18 months of age our son was dx'd. We started ABA before then and with time his speech and language developed and his level of engagement and eye contact improved.

    We too know that we are in the minority and that most kids don't get dx'd until at least 3 or 4 years of age due to the waitlists and doctors failing to act upon concerns expressed by parents.

    Needless to say after our dx we switched paediatricians and found someone that respects our view as parents. We think that all the early intervention we have provided our son is going to help him overcome his challenges.

    I wanted to add that some regional agencies in Ontario will allow you to put your child on the waitlist for publicly funded IBI if you have a suspected dx and are waiting for an assessment. Our son was put on the list with our regional agency on his first birthday (long before we got the dx). He has since been deemed too high functioning but that's an entirely other issue and beef we have with the system.

    A very seasoned autism advocate told me not to wait for the public system to help and to get ABA therapy before we got a dx. This was the best advice I ever rec'd. ABA and speech therapy can only help a child with developmental delays.