The Autism Journey: Navigating Diagnosis and Finding Support

The Autism Journey: Navigating Diagnosis and Finding Support


For decades, one of the most common issues in autism has been the lack of quality information and guidance available to parents of children or families and individuals seeking and receiving an autism diagnosis.

💡 Did you know

On this World Autism Day 2 nd April 2024, Melvory is partnering with Autism Awareness Australia by donating 5% of our sales to help raise awareness about the importance of early intervention and support services for individuals on the autism spectrum.

What is autism?

Autism — or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a disorder of child development that affects the way people communicate and relate with the world.

As yet we have no simple test, such as a blood test or scan, that can diagnose autism. Autism can only be diagnosed by observing someone’s behaviour.

The key behaviours professionals are looking for are:

  • Social interaction and communication problems
  • Having little or no interest in sharing interests or emotions with other people
  • Having trouble with normal ‘back-and-forth’ conversation
  • Having difficulties using and understanding body language, such as waving or pointing, or facial expressions
  • Rarely engaging in ‘pretend’ play
  • Having difficulty making friends
  • Restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, interests or activities
  • Hand-flapping or toe-walking
  • Playing with toys in an unusual way (such as lining up cars or flipping objects)
  • Speaking in an unusual way (such as using odd patterns of speech or ‘parroting’ scripts from favourite TV shows)
  • Needing a very predictable routine and disliking change
  • Having unusually intense interests in topics or subjects
  • Being oversensitive or under sensitive to sounds, smells or touch
  • Children with autism may also have speech delay and problems with body movement and concentration but these conditions are not specific to autism.

“This can be an emotional time, be kind to yourself.”

A child diagnosed with autism may also be diagnosed with other conditions, such as an intellectual disorder (affecting their thinking and learning) or a language disorder (affecting how they understand and use speech). These other conditions can also affect how a child with autism develops and learns.

People on the autism spectrum are all very different, as they differ vastly in their intellectual and language ability, and of course each has their own personality that shines through. It is so important to identify their individual strengths and interests and those need to be celebrated and encouraged.

Severity levels

When a child receives an autism diagnosis under DSM-5, this will include a severity level. This shows how much support they need:

Autism Awareness Spectrum

Does a label matter?

When speaking to many of my mum friends, many people worry about 'putting a label onto a child.’ However, a diagnosis is not a label, it is a medical term. You do not need to tell everyone you meet that your child has a diagnosis. Whether families disclose is entirely up to them.

A diagnosis is essential to getting the correct therapies in place and to accessing funding. Your child needs and deserves to have the best chance of developing as much as they are able. They need early intervention. To deny that to a child is not at all supportive or helpful.

Remember that the diagnosis may be something you need to tell people about now. However, this may not be the case for life. Many autistic adults do not tell everyone about it. They tell the people who need to know only.

A diagnosis is very important, with it you can access the help your child needs.

The Diagnosis Process

A good first step is to visit your GP or other family healthcare provider to get a referral for an autism assessment. GPs aren’t qualified to make an official diagnosis but they can give you the requisite referral to see someone who is. This might be a child psychologist, psychiatrist or a paediatrician who is experienced in the diagnostic process.


A trusted GP should take your concerns seriously, but if not, seek a second opinion as your GP is unlikely to be an expert in autism. Research shows that parents are often the best judges of developmental concerns in their own children.

How to diagnosis Autism in children Australia


Commonly a multidisciplinary team will include a paediatrician (or child and adolescent psychiatrist), a psychologist and a speech pathologist, but other health professionals may provide input if required.


A single health professional may be able to diagnose a child with obvious signs of autism. A team approach is necessary for children with less clear symptoms or who have other conditions that make the diagnosis more complicated.

In Summary:

Understanding autism and embarking on the journey towards diagnosis can be challenging, but it's a critical step towards ensuring your child receives the support they need to thrive. Remember, you're not alone on this journey, and there are resources and communities available to support you every step of the way.

Let's continue spreading awareness, acceptance, and support for individuals with autism, fostering a world where everyone is valued for their unique abilities and contributions.

Autism Journey Australia