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How Is Autism Diagnosed In Ireland

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Screening And Diagnosis Of Autism Spectrum Disorder

29 March 2017 – How to help families of children diagnosed with autism in Northern Ireland

Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder can be difficult because there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder. Doctors look at the childs developmental history and behavior to make a diagnosis.

ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable . However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. Some people are not diagnosed until they are adolescents or adults. This delay means that children with ASD might not get the early help they need.

Early signs of ASD can include, but are not limited to

  • Avoiding eye contact,
  • Having little interest in other children or caretakers,
  • Limited display of language , or
  • Getting upset by minor changes in routine.

CDCs Learn the Signs. Act Early. program provides free resources to help families monitor developmental milestones and recognize signs of developmental concerns, including ASD.

As children with ASD become adolescents and young adults, they might have difficulties developing and maintaining friendships, communicating with peers and adults, or understanding what behaviors are expected in school or on the job. They may also come to the attention of healthcare providers because they have co-occurring conditions such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety or depression, or conduct disorder.

Schools Need ‘more Resources’

Mrs Davison said that after her son’s diagnosis she put in place a home routine and altered his “visual” environment”.

While her children are now receiving extra educational support, she is still lobbying for greater resources.

“There are a lot of people who are not getting help in schools,” she said.

“The NHS and schools are under tremendous pressure but there needs to be more training and resources.

“If a teacher is working with a child with autism there needs to be training for them.”

Gender Bias And Lack Of Understanding Are Some Of The Key Issues

Fiona Ferris and daughter Katelynn Ferris-Hamilton . Girls tend to mask their behaviour leading to late diagnosis. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

The prevalence of autism is estimated to be at least three times higher among boys than girls, but whether this is down to biology or bias in diagnosis or a combination of both is a matter of some debate.

What is clear is that the likelihood of a later diagnosis is one of the big gender-specific challenges for autistic girls. A recently published UCD study suggests that the path of autism in girls in Ireland is marked by diagnostic delays, social stigma, interpersonal difficulties, mental health comorbidities and parental stress.

Entitled I just rolled up my sleeves: Mothers perspectives on raising girls on the autism spectrum, the qualitative research is described by its authors, Karen Fowler and Cliodhna OConnor, as one of the first studies to illuminate the everyday experience of young girls with autism through the viewpoint of their mothers.

The women describe their autistic daughters as presenting with social challenges and mental health difficulties. Many of the 19 mothers who gave in-depth interviews for the research, published in the international journal Autism, had experienced judgment from other parents and family members, and had mental health struggles themselves.


How do I tell my child s/he is on the spectrum?


A lot of sarcasm and bitchiness comes with being a teenage girl

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Initial Affects On Family:

Suddenly, with a confirmed diagnosis of autism, everything changes. Parents and family members can react differently to the diagnosis. Some may start a grieving process while the other may go through an angry phase or non acceptance that their child has autism. This can create tension within the home so its important that the issue is discussed as openly as possible and that you focus on the childs needs. If you need additional help in coping with the diagnosis in the early stages it is important that you get it as quickly as possible. There are many autism support groups throughout the country and it can help to talk to other parents who are a little further down the road than you are. There are professional councillors who can help you to deal with the issues that you are facing and assist you in navigating what is a very emotional time. We at Shine will be happy to help or put you in touch with a support group in your area.

How Do I Find A Diagnosis

Poor schoolchildren significantly more likely to be ...

Unfortunately, at the moment in Ireland, there are no public assessment teams dedicated to adult diagnoses. Currently, the vast majority of adults who think they might be autistic can only get an assessment privately.;

Most private psychologists in Ireland do not require a GP referral to access a psychological assessment for autism. You can self-refer by contacting them directly. It is very important that you undertake an assessment with a professional that is familiar with autism in adults and works in a respectful, neurodiversity affirmative way .

It also may be advisable to talk to your GP. There are many private psychiatrists who do require a GP referral. While your GP may only refer you to a private psychologist or psychiatrist, it is important that your GP understands you, and also is able to see the demand for these assessments in Ireland and advocate for them appropriately. You will need to provide your GP with a very specific list of the reason why you think you might be autistic as they may still hold outdated ideas about autism .;

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Autism Diagnoses In Ni Children Up By More Than 100%

The number of children being diagnosed with autism in Northern Ireland has more than doubled in five years.

Some health trusts have seen a three-fold increase and there are also 2,500 under-18s still waiting to be assessed.

Healthcare professionals and autism charities have pointed to increased awareness as a reason for the jump.

Kerry Boyd, the head of Autism NI, said her organisation is “inundated” with requests for support.

“The introduction of the Autism Act 2011 and the accompanying increase in awareness both within the general public and health and education professions may have contributed to a rise in the number of assessments carried out and resulting diagnoses,” she said.

“Consequently Autism NI, which provides vital services, is inundated with requests for support and we are finding it increasingly difficult to fulfil this demand.

“As a result of this exponential increase, many families are not receiving an adequate level of support particularly in relation to early intervention.”

In total 2,345 children under 18 were diagnosed as autistic last year, compared with 1,047 five years previously.

The latest figures were obtained by the BBC after a freedom of information request to all five of Northern Ireland’s health and social care trusts and cover the period between 2013-14 and 2017-18.

The figures do not distinguish between the different types of diagnosis, with the Northern Trust the only one to differentiate between Asperger’s and autism.

If You Find It Hard To Get Diagnosed

It’s not always easy to get an autism assessment. Waiting times can also be very long.

If you’re finding it hard to get an assessment, you could ask to speak to someone else, like another GP this is called getting a second opinion.

It may also help to speak to other people who have been in a similar situation.

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Have An Autism Assessment

An autism assessment is where a team of autism specialists check if you or your child are autistic.

An assessment team may:

  • ask about any problems you or your child are having
  • watch how you or your child interact with other people
  • speak to people who know you or your child well, such as family, friends, your GP or your child’s teachers

At the end of the assessment, you’ll be given a report saying if you or your child are autistic.

What Are The Main Types Of Autism

Autism News: Almost 1 in 20 Northern Ireland Schoolchildren Have Autism Diagnosis

Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that people are affected in different ways. While many people with autism share common characteristics, everybodys experience of autism is unique to them.

Autism can be referred to in different ways:

  • Autism spectrum disorder this is the term most commonly used as it is the medical name for autism.
  • Autism spectrum condition another term for autism that is widely used.
  • Asperger syndrome also known as Aspergers, this is no longer diagnosed by doctors, and many people are now diagnosed with autism instead. However, some people who were previously diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome still use the term. It is sometimes referred to as high-functioning autism because people who fit the Aspergers profile typically have average or above average intelligence.

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Full Speech & Language

If you want a full understanding andpeace of mind about your child’s abilities and needs, we recommend a

full assessment. We test your child’s play skills; comprehension, expressive skills, pronunciation of speech sounds, and phonological awareness . Ifappropriate, we will also evaluate your child’s pragmatics and sensory needs.

Full Speech & Language Assessment – 280

How Will I Deal With This Diagnosis

Its not easy to hear the news that your child has autism, and realise that your life will be utterly different than you had expected it to be. Daily life with a special-needs child presents many unique challenges. How do you come to terms with the fact that your child has autism? How do you cope once you get over the initial phase after diagnosis.

You are never prepared for a diagnosis of autism. It is likely that you will experience a range of emotions. It is painful to love so much, to want something so much but you must take a practical approach as you would in overcoming other challenges in your life. You want your child to get better so much you may feel some of the stages commonly associated with grieving. You may revisit these feelings from time to time in the future. Part of moving forward, is dealing with your own needs and emotions along the way.

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Autism Diagnostic Therapeutic And Clinical Supports

Autism diagnosis can take a number of different forms. It may happen in early years, or as late as adulthood. It can be pursued publicly or privately. Autism may be the only necessary diagnosis, or it may exist alongside other co-occurring differences. It can only be diagnosed by a psychologist, psychiatrist, developmental pediatrician or a child neurologist. Diagnosis will typically be accompanied by a diagnostic report outlining recommended supports. For children, an autism diagnosis is necessary to access educational supports and therapeutic supports. For adults, diagnosis can assist in gaining other supports such as university disability services or reasonable accommodations in the workplace.

Furthermore for both of these groups, a diagnosis often provides clarity, relief and a framework for moving forward. Many parents feel relief to finally put a name to their childs difference. Many adults who are diagnosed later in life feel liberated; having finally found an answer for why they struggled in certain areas.;

Accessing a diagnosis and relevant supports can be a difficult and expensive process. Weve provided information on the options available to you in the section below.

What Is Involved In An Autism Assessment

Distribution of age when diagnosed (Irish vs Romanian ...
  • Cognitive Assessment Completed with Dr Sarah Collins
  • ADOS
  • ADIR- (Parental Interview completed with Dr Sarah Collins
  • Feedback to go through the outcome of the above assessments and to read through the report
  • Report with recommendations for therapeutic plan, educational support that need to be put in place.
  • Further appointment with a member of our MDT team to; provide guidance around appropriate care pathway for individual child.

We offer a follow up with our admin team who can help you with practical parts following the assessment such as :

  • Filling our Domiciliary Care Allowance Forms
  • Accessing Specialized pre-school placement
  • Organizing of therapeutic support appointments with our team.

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About Autism Spectrum Disorder

In children with ASD, the symptoms are present before three years of age. Although a diagnosis can sometimes be made after the age of three.

It’s estimated that about;1 in every 100 people has ASD. More boys are diagnosed with the condition than girls. About half of those with ASD will have a learning disability.

There’s no “cure” for ASD. But speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, educational support, plus a number of other supports are available to help children and parents.

Asperger’s disorder;is a different form of ASD, associated with symptoms that are not as severe. People with Asperger’s disorder usually have fewer problems with speech and are much less likely to have a learning disability.

Students In Ireland Have An Autism Diagnosis Thats One In Every 65

THERE IS A much higher rate of autism among Irish school students than previously thought, a major new report has found.

The study, from the National Council for Special Education, found that 14,000 students have an autism diagnosis thats one in every 65 students or 1.5% of the school population.

A previous study, conducted in 2013, estimated that there was a one in 100 autism rate among Irish children.

The Department of Education has set up an implementation group to study the implications of the findings.


The NCSE report recommends more investment in the school system to develop teacher knowledge and understanding of autism.

The organisation says teachers should be allowed select the appropriate evidence informed interventions according to the needs of each student.

The report also found that there had been a substantial increase in investment in the area noting that over 300 million is now invested annually in additional teaching, technology and other supports for children.

63% of students with autism attend mainstream schools, it was found. A further 23% attend special classes in mainstream primary and secondary schools, while 14% attend special schools. There are now over 900 special classes for students with autism, up from fewer than 80 in 2001.


Autism spectrum disorders;are characterised by difficulties in social interaction and communication and a restricted, repetitive repertoire of interests and activities.

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Autism: Almost One In 20 Ni Schoolchildren Have Diagnosis

BBC News NI Education Correspondent

Almost one in every 20 school-age children in Northern Ireland has been diagnosed with autism.

More than 13,000 children between the ages of four to 15 have a diagnosis of autism – an estimated 4.5% of the school aged population.

That is according to new figures published by the Department of Health .

The proportion of children with autism in schools in Northern Ireland has more than trebled in a decade.

In 2020/21, 4.5% of children aged four to 16 had been identified with autism or Asperger’s syndrome, up from 1.2% in 2009.

While the DoH cautioned against direct comparison between years due to changes in the ways autism data is collected, they said an increasing number of children with all ages were being diagnosed with autism.

Boys were three times more likely to have a diagnosis of autism than girls.

The number of children of school-age with autism has been increasing by about 10% a year for the past decade.

How Is Autism Trated

Ireland, Septo-optic Dysplasia / Autism | Stem Cell Treatment Testimonial

Because autism is a complex condition that affects people differently, the approaches will depend on the individuals needs and may well change over the course of their life.

Many autistic people also have co-existing conditions, such as a learning disability, mental health problems, epilepsy, sleep problems and digestive issues. Certain treatments or support methods may be helpful for these and should always be monitored carefully.


At the moment there are no medications that can cure autism but different interventions may be helpful and can improve behaviour, skills and language development. Moreover, pharmacological approaches can help in dealing with neurological, psychiatric and other co-occurring conditions. These include antiepileptics, antipsychotics, stimulants and hypnotics.




Some people find that specific dietary approaches can be beneficial. Some studies12 have looked at different dietary interventions and found that they could be potentially helpful, but wider research is needed to provide stronger evidence.


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How Long Can You Live With Autism

Autism is a lifelong condition, but while there is no cure, the effects of autism can often be well managed with the right support in place. The section below on treatment and medication explains more about the range of approaches that can help people with autism.

Autism in itself does not lower life expectancy. However, people with autism do tend to die younger than the general population. A study by Karolinska Institutet in Sweden published in The British Journal of Psychiatry8 showed that the leading causes of early death include epilepsy, which people with autism may be vulnerable to, and suicide, which is linked to higher rates of mental health problems among autistic people.

Is Autism On The Rise In Ireland

The number of children diagnosed is soaring but as families reach out for help, the HSE admits it’s struggling to cope, reports Fiachra O’Cionnaith

AUTISM services across the country are struggling to meet the needs of children desperate for help because they are being swamped by a “huge increase” in demand.

Confirming the situation in an official response to a parliamentary question, the HSE has stated that the “huge increase” in the number of children being sent to specialist autism services is making it almost impossible to meet demand.


Autism is a serious disability that affects a child’s development in terms of social interaction, communication and a range of other social skills.

The first signs of the condition can usually be identified by medics and disability experts before the age of three if enough time is spent diagnosing the child in question.

If such a quick diagnosis is made, the impact of autism on a child can be drastically reduced, with specialist care from multi-disciplinary medical teams specialising in intellectual disabilities and child mental health services helping an affected child to overcome the condition.


And in a worrying formal response to a series of parliamentary questions from Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan in recent weeks, the HSE has now confirmed that serious “challenges” are being experienced by medics because of the sheer numbers of children being diagnosed with the condition.


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