Autism Q and A: Waiting for Assessment
The decision to pursue an autism assessment is one that comes with many emotions and immense patience; however, it can also lead to a better understanding of your child’s needs. We have created this Autism Q & A blog to help connect you to valuable services, resources, and advice while your family is waiting for assessment.
*This blog is written for parents and caregivers looking for autism assessment information for their child under age 18. For information and resources regarding adult autism assessment, visit our other blog here.
Do I Need an Assessment for my Child?
Throughout your child’s life there will be many questions and unknowns. We don’t get a handbook on how to parent and each child is unique. It can be helpful to connect with available services so you can ask questions and possibly get access to resources you and your child can benefit from.
Pursuing an assessment may provide a diagnosis that helps you understand your child’s needs. When consulting with the Autistic community, we often hear that a formal diagnosis allows for a greater understanding of oneself and their identity. Some people may receive an autism diagnosis, another (or additional) diagnosis, or none at all. Whatever the outcome, the assessment process can put you on the path to making informed decisions for your child and family.
Video: Do I really need a formal diagnosis for my child? Do they need it? — YouTube
Where Can I Get an Assessment?
Across BC there are many funded assessment programs and services available for families. You can often self-refer to those programs. If you are considering assessment, speak with your doctor, pediatrician, or local public health unit.
You can find Public Health Units (PHU) and other services in your area with the HealthLinkBC Directory or you can call 8-1-1 to speak with a health services navigator. If you’d prefer, you can contact us here for regional information from your AutismBC Regional Coordinator and we can guide you through the process.
Development Assessment in BC:
Assessing & Supporting Your Childs Development
Aboriginal Infant Development Programs (AIDP)
Aboriginal Supported Child Development
Early Intervention Therapy (EIT)
Connection and support with these programs can often help determine if getting an autism assessment is needed. For children under 6, some professionals in these programs can refer you for additional assessments.
How Do I Get an Autism Assessment? (Under age 18)
The assessment process for an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis in BC is specific and must meet specific criteria to be eligible for autism funding.
Publicly funded assessments are done through the BC Autism Assessment Network (BCAAN) at no cost to the family; however, a referral is required. We recommend connecting with your local BCAAN & Regional Coordinators as information may vary depending on your health region.
Another option is to find a qualified B.C. specialist in a private practice to do an autism assessment, but you should be aware that this option has a financial cost for the family. Sometimes the cost can be claimed on extended health plans. You can also apply for Variety Childrens Chairty Grants or see if you qualify for assistance with Jordans Principle (Government of Canada, n.d.).
For more information about the assessment process you can check out our Autism Assessment in BC blog.
For information on autism assessments for people over the age of 18, you can read our Autism Diagnosis for Adults blog.
What Can I Do While Waiting for an Assessment?
Unfortunately, it’s common for families in BC to have to wait over a year for a public autism assessment. Some ideas of what to do while you wait for your assessment.
- Prepare: gather paperwork you may need; make notes about things you want your assessment team to know
- Start doing things with your child at home. Identify teachable moments and engage your child when you can.
- The assessment may or may not result in an autism diagnosis. Be prepared for either result.
- Join parent or community groups for peer support and connection—Autism BC Community Groups
- Join our Waiting for Assessment Workshop—AutismBC covers all the cost to put this information session on to equip families with knowledge about the assessment process.
Video: Is early intervention important? — YouTube