What should you do if a parent asks you if their child has autism?
Autism affects how people communicate with others; they find it difficult to form relationships with others and can have difficulty in making senses of the world around them. There are many different forms of autism that require specialists to make that diagnosis. For those working in early years it is important to not label a child with autism.
There be a time when a parent approaches you about their child and asks your advice. It is best practice to listen to the parent and explain that you are not qualified to make a diagnosis but can point them in the right direction to receiving some help. As an early year’s practitioner it is important that parents can feel that they can approach you about their child, therefore always find the time to talk to these parents as this will help the child.
Diagnosing a child with a form of autism can be difficult and can be a long process, many parents can find this whole process frustrating and daunting. Reassuring parents and working with them to find ways to support the child at home and nursery during this process can really help that early support.
As children aren’t being diagnosed with autism until school age, practitioners need to have good knowledge of child development to help them identify any possible causes or concern. Completing regular observations and assessments is crucial in identifying children’s interests, strengths and areas of concern. These observations with parental consent can be shared with other professionals.
Don’t forget to approach your SENCO who is there to help support children, practitioners and parents.
As early year’s practitioners aren’t qualified to make that decision, it is important that practitioners don’t label a child just because they have observed a few concerns. It is best practice to collate observations, work with parents and professionals to get the child the right level of support they need.