Read about what happens if you, your whānau, your child's teachers, Well Child nurse or GP raise concerns about your child's development or notice signs of autism-takiwātanga in your child.
Key points about autism-takiwātanga diagnosis
- you may be one of the first to notice signs of autism - takiwātanga in your child
- your child's teachers, Well Child nurse or GP may also raise concerns about your child's development
- if you're worried and you haven't seen your GP, make an appointment to talk to them
- it really helps to give your GP as much information as possible
- if your child needs an assessment for autism-takiwātanga, your GP can arrange this
- it can take many months to get an assessment - waiting times vary across Aotearoa
- there are some things you can do in the meantime
How is autism-takiwātanga diagnosed?
You may be one of the first to notice signs of autism - takiwātanga in your child. Your child's teachers, Well Child nurse or GP may also raise concerns about your child's development. Your Well Child nurse checks your child's growth and development at all Well Child visits. You and your Well Child nurse can discuss any concerns you have about your child's development and behaviour.
Who to talk to
If you have concerns about your child's development or behaviour, you could talk to:
- your Well Child nurse
- your GP
- an early childhood teacher at your child's child care centre or kindergarten
- someone at the Ministry of Education, Learning Support (phone 0800 622 222)
You know your child best. Get a second opinion if you remain concerned.
If you or someone else thinks your child may have autism-takiwātanga, talk to your GP
You or someone else may be wondering whether your child has autism-takiwātanga. Your Well Child nurse or teacher may have noticed some differences about your child and suggest an appointment with a GP. Ask the Well Child nurse or teacher to write down what they've noticed. Take this to the GP - it really helps to give your GP as much information as possible.
If you're worried and you haven't seen your GP, make an appointment to talk to them. If your child needs an assessment for autism-takiwātanga, your GP can arrange this.
Your child might need an assessment for autism-takiwātanga
Your GP can arrange an appointment with a health professional with training and experience in autism-takiwātanga. The health professional could be a paediatrician, child and adolescent psychiatrist, or a psychologist. A developmental coordinator may also be a member of the team looking after your child.
What can I do while I'm waiting for the assessment?
It can take many months to get an assessment. Waiting times vary across different regions of Aotearoa New Zealand.
There are some things you can do in the meantime.
Parenting programmes can be really helpful for everyone. But they are even more useful when parenting children with challenging behaviour.
To help you cope and build skills, you could do a parenting programme like 'Triple P' or 'Incredible Years'.
Find out about the 'Incredible Years' programme at the:
- Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI) website (Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga)
- Barnados website
- Whāraurau website
Ask your GP about getting a hearing test for your child, to check there are no problems with your child's hearing.
Contact Learning Support at the Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga (phone 0800 622 222). Or you could ask your child's teacher at kōhanga reo, daycare or kindergarten to contact them for you. Your child may be able to get support from a speech language therapist or an early intervention teacher.
The steps involved in an assessment
There are a number of steps a health professional might take to identify whether your child has autism-takiwātanga or something else. These steps might take place over more than one appointment.
Meeting with you and your child
The health professional will usually meet with you and your child to:
- ask about your child's medical and developmental history
- explore symptoms of autism-takiwātanga and associated conditions
- understand the impact of symptoms on your child and family
- identify any family history of autism-takiwātanga
- examine your child
Communicating with your child's preschool or school
The health professional will usually communicate with your child's preschool or school so they can understand how your child's symptoms may be affecting their learning. They may arrange for your child to be observed at home or at daycare.
Other tests and investigations
The health professional may order other tests (including blood tests) if needed. They may arrange for your child to have a hearing test.
A range of information is needed for a diagnosis
There is no single test to diagnose autism-takiwātanga. The diagnosis is best made after your health professional has collected a range of information and this process may take more than one appointment.
Finding out the impact of difficulties on day to day functioning
Children with autism-takiwātanga have difficulties in all settings of their lives (such as home, and daycare or school). But their difficulties may be more obvious in one setting. It is the extent and impact the difficulties are having on day to day functioning that is important.
Checking there is not another cause for your child's symptoms
Your health professional will check that your child's symptoms are not caused by other problems such as hearing or learning problems, developmental delay, or another condition.
This page last reviewed 15 September 2023.
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