If you or your child are seeking an autism assessment and diagnosis, or you have recently received a diagnosis, you will be familiar with the dreaded waitlist. It is unusual to find a therapist without a waitlist. This is partly due to increased autism awareness, with more families seeking support and the lack of qualified therapists moving into the industry. The recent pandemic has also compounded the waitlist crisis, with many practices still working their way through a backlog of appointment requests.
It can be both frustrating and distressing while waiting for assistance. Here are five practical tips while on a waitlist.
Get on multiple autism assessment waitlists.
Make sure you place your name on multiple waitlists. Ensure you also phone regularly to enquire how fast the waitlist is moving. If practical, let the practice know that you are happy to take last-minute cancellation appointments. This is a great way to ensure an earlier appointment date.
It may be worth considering both in-person and telehealth options. Consider traveling outside your local area. Because of your willingness to travel, it broadens your opportunity for a shorter wait time.
No need to wait for an autism diagnosis to start support.
There is no need to wait until the official diagnosis before you start exploring ways to support your child. While the diagnosis will ensure that the support needs can be tailored, you can start exploring supports and accommodations immediately.
For children aged 0-6 years of age, a diagnosis is not required to access early intervention services privately or through the NDIS. Early Intervention can be vital in setting up supports and understanding your child’s support needs.
You access up to 10 psychology appointments per year. You access these through your GP with a Mental health plan via the Better Access initiative . Visit our previous blog to learn more about this. You can get this referral through your GP. This requires you to make an appointment with your GP and let them know you are seeking a Mental health care plan. Your GP or the clinic nurse will then fill in the paperwork allowing you to access your 10 subsidised sessions. You may be able to use this plan to see allied health professionals also such as Occupational Therapist. Ask your GP for more information on this.
There are also some great apps that can be used to assist you and your chid while waiting for a diagnosis. Everything from Speech therapy to social groups.
Kaboose – Monitored online social group for Autistic kids and teens.
ASD Tools – ASD tools empowers teachers, therapists and parents in facilitating structured communication and growth with a safe and engaging structure.
Spokle – Spokle App is empowering parents to support their child’s speech therapy at home.
Practical tips and resources for families awaiting an autism diagnosis – Interview with Anita Aherne
Start engaging with the community.
There are many online groups and advocates you can learn from right now. Social media is a great place to start and learn from others in a similar position. It is also a great place to ask questions. Below is a list of great resources you can access now for support.
- Living on the Spectrum – We are a free online autism directory and neurodiversity hub. Find resources, supports, and products. We also share news, research and share lived experiences.
- Autism what next– Autism Awareness Australia has launched its information site “What next” this is to assist parents in navigating an autism diagnosis and support and pathways.
- Aussie Autism Family – Jess is a vlogger and helps parents navigate their journey as a carer and parent to an autistic child. Jess vlogs via YouTube and Instagram.
- Chloe Hayden – Chloe is an autistic advocate, actor, author, and public speaker. sharing insights about the misconceptions about being autistic, Chloe does a great job at shattering stereotypes. She shares her insights via social media.
Make sure visit our free online directory for more advocates.
Register for carer support.
A carer is anyone, including children and adults, who looks after a family member, partner, or friend who needs assistance due to an illness, disability, mental health concern or addiction and requires your support and assistance. If you are a parent of a child who requires additional support and care, and you are providing this additional support care, then you are a carer.
If you are on an autism assessment waitlist, you are eligible for carer support. It is important that you recognise this and ensure you register for support. Multiple organisations can assist you, and you are eligible to apply.
For more information you can contact
or you can check our carer supports here.
As a note, you as a carer can also access the subsidised mental health care plan via the Better access initiative.
Trust your instincts.
As a parent, carer or individual seeking support, it is often easy to fall into self-doubt. Because of this, it can be easy for us to ignore the things that actually help and improve life outcomes. It may be forcing ourselves or our child into uncomfortable situations because of peer pressure or family pressure. Conformity is a powerful and can be quite destructive. However, there is nothing wrong with doing things that work for you and your family. Throw out the rule book and learn what makes you and your family thrive.