Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder in PEI
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) presents itself in a variety of ways and ranges from mild to severe. In PEI, a child may be identified with signs of autism at a very young age through a Public Health Nursing screening program. Public Health Nursing offers pre-school health clinics throughout the province and can assess your child’s development in areas such as vision and hearing, growth and nutrition, speech and communication, and personal/social development. Find more information at Pre-School Health.
Because Autism Spectrum is a social-communication disorder, a child needing professional help developing speech and language abilities may be identified with signs of ASD through Speech Language Pathology.
If you suspect your child may have ASD, you should mention this to the public health nurse during your child’s screening clinic or to the speech language pathologist, if your child is receiving SLP services. This is also a concern you should discuss with a family doctor or nurse practitioner. Any of these experienced health professionals will be able to help you decide if your child should begin the process for diagnostic assessment.
What if my child is identified with signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder?
1. If your child is identified with signs of ASD, the process for diagnostic assessment begins. It’s common for families to have to wait for a diagnostic assessment.
2. A family doctor or nurse practitioner must issue a referral for your child to access pediatrician services. Find more information at Pediatrician Outpatient Services.
3. The pediatric office will contact you with an appointment and have you complete paperwork about your child to help the pediatrician better prepare for the appointment.
4. The pediatrician may refer your child for a diagnostic assessment from Pediatric Psychology Services.
5. Pediatric Psychology Services provides free diagnostic assessments for children up to age 5. A referral from a pediatrician is required to access these services.
What if my child receives an autism diagnosis?
After receiving your child's autism diagnosis, an assessment may indicate that your child needs support with skill development. You can:
- Build a support team tailored to your child’s needs – it might include health professionals, therapists, care providers, educators and support workers;
- Apply for autism funding and grants to help cover the costs of support that will help them reach their development goals;
- Reach out for community support through the PEI Autism Society and the PEI Association for Community Living; and
- Connect to community services and programs through 211PEI online at: https://pe.211.ca/ or by phone: 211