This is really not a very helpful guideline. Really the message for us is that if parents / school or you have a real concern that a child may have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, refer on for assessment.
Don’t dismiss the possibility of a problem if they have features such as good eye contact, smiling, showing affection, reported pretend play or normal language. Also don’t rely on a negative score on a diagnostic test. Still consider the diagnosis if a previous assessment showed that there was no autism, if new features have appeared. You should also not dismiss the diagnosis if the child’s difficulties resolve after initial interventions.
On a more helpful note, they list associated features that can be found at each age of presentation (from pre-school to adult). These are worth referring to if you have someone with a behavioural problem.
- Children over 3 with suggested features and regression should be referred first to paeds to exclude other conditions.
- Other children in whom the diagnosis is considered, should be referred to the ‘autism team’ (in Portsmouth this is currently led by the community paeds I believe).
My own comments