Signs of autism in young children include:

  • not responding to their name
  • avoiding eye contact
  • not smiling when you smile at them
  • getting very upset if they do not like a certain taste, smell or sound
  • repetitive movements, such as flapping their hands, flicking their fingers or rocking their body
  • not talking as much as other children
  • repeating the same phrases

Autism in older children

Signs of autism in older children include:

  • not seeming to understand what others are thinking or feeling
  • finding it hard to say how they feel
  • liking a strict daily routine and getting very upset if it changes
  • having a very keen interest in certain subjects or activities
  • getting very upset if you ask them to do something
  • finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on their own
  • taking things very literally – for example, they may not understand phrases like "break a leg"

Autism can sometimes be different in girls and boys.

For example, autistic girls may be quieter, may hide their feelings and may appear to cope better with social situations.

This means autism can be harder to spot in girls.

  • Deficits in social communication & social interaction
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities.
  • Symptoms must be present in early childhood
  • Symptoms together limit and impair everyday functioning – across the different settings your child is in.

Children need to meet all these criteria to get a diagnosis.

You need to be referred to the Greenwich Integrated Neurodevelopmental team (IND) for an assessment by your GP or special educational needs (SENCO) staff at your child's school. You may have to wait a few months to get an appointment.

Further information on how to get diagnosed

If you think your child needs support at school, you can start getting help before having an assessment.
You can:

  • Look at the local offer for children and young people with social communication difficulties, who provide information on what support is available in the Greenwich area: Greenwich local offer. 
  • Find a local support group using the National Autistic Society services directory
  • Talk to teachers or special educational needs (SENCO) staff at your child's school. Your child does not need a diagnosis to receive support in school for their difficulties.  If you are having difficulties getting support for your child you can contact the Families Information Service for advice
  • Speak to student support services at college

You will have an initial assessment with the Greenwich Integrated Neurodevelopmental team (IND). As part of their assessment they will:

  • Ask you about your child's development, such as when they started talking
  • Watch how you and your child interact, and how your child plays
  • Read any reports sent by the GP and the nursery or school

Based on the assessment it may be appropriate to refer to other services e.g. Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, etc. or to arrange investigations such as blood tests. They may need to request information from your child’s school/pre-school, or from the other services your child is known to, such as Speech therapy.

Once all the information has been collected, the doctor will then decide if your child needs further assessment of their social communication difficulties. If the doctor does not feel a further referral is needed at that time they will explain the reasons why they do not. 

Your doctor should inform you of the likely waiting time for the IND assessment when you are referred. The waiting time for an assessment can seem very long and in view of this it is important that your child gets the support they need. Not having a diagnosis should not stop your child getting this support.