In WA, a child aged 0 to 13 years is assessed for autism by three professionals
using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 5
(DSM-V-TR), who must all agree on the diagnosis. The three professionals are:
• Speech Pathologist
• Registered or Clinical Psychologist
Please note, not all qualified professionals carry out autism diagnostic
assessments. Also, the diagnosing professionals and processes are different
between children and adults.
The process for diagnosing autism varies between different Australian states
and territories. If a person was diagnosed outside WA, they may need to be
re-assessed to meet the criteria for support in the WA Education system.
While children aged 0 to 6 years may be able to access the National Disability
Insurance Scheme (NDIS) without a formal diagnosis, children aged 7 and over
need a diagnosis to either access or to continue to receive NDIS supports.
Here’s how it works:
If you are a parent/carer worried about your child’s development, here are
the different options and steps involved in getting a diagnosis for a child aged
between 7 and 13 years.
The autism diagnostic process for children in WA starts with an appointment
with your GP to talk about your concerns. Your child needs to go to the
appointment with you. The GP can refer your child to see a paediatrician.
You can choose which paediatrician, or they can recommend one. The
paediatrician’s office will contact you to book an appointment. If you don’t hear
from them within two weeks, it’s a good idea to contact them directly.
The paediatrician will carry out an assessment of your child. If they believe
your child needs further assessment for autism, they will refer your child
to a speech pathologist and a psychologist for them to do a formal autism
diagnostic assessment. These assessments can be done either through the
public or private systems.
• Public: diagnostic assessments are free, but for children over 7yrs old, the
waiting period is up to 2 years. Public autism diagnostic assessments are
carried out by the Department of Communities – Disability Services OR the
State Child Development Centre (Perth families only).
• Private: the waiting period for a private autism diagnostic assessment
is usually around 1 to 4 months, and you will need to pay a fee for the
assessments. You may be able to claim some small rebates from
Medicare or private health insurance. Please contact the speech
pathologist and psychologist before the appointments to find out about
their fees and any rebates
The speech pathologist and psychologist work together to carry out their autism
assessments and to write a formal diagnostic report. You may then have a
follow up appointment with the paediatrician, to confirm the diagnosis, if they
haven’t written a letter beforehand stating their opinion that your child meets the
criteria for autism.
Handy Hint – Collecting evidence and information
You will probably be asked similar questions by the GP,
paediatrician, therapists and other services about your child.
You will also receive lots of forms, reports and paperwork.
The best way to keep track of it all is to: