Autism assessment and diagnosis
Learn how to get your child assessed for autism and get a diagnosis from a qualified professional so you can apply for the Ontario Autism Program and access services as soon as possible. Find a location where you can get an autism diagnostic assessment.
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Getting assessed for autism
If you have concerns about your child’s development, it is best to make an appointment with your child’s doctor as soon as possible.
Autism is tested and diagnosed using professional assessment tools and by evaluating a combination of certain behaviours. These behaviours can include delays in how your child communicates and developmental disabilities.
Qualified professionals who have undergone specific training can assess your child and diagnose them with autism. These professionals include, but are not limited to:
- doctors, such as family physicians, pediatricians, developmental pediatricians and psychiatrists
- psychologists and psychological associates
- nurse practitioners
You can also contact one of Ontario's five diagnostic hubs to schedule an autism assessment for your child.
About diagnostic hubs
Diagnostic hubs provide timely assessments so that your child can start getting services as quickly as possible. These hubs help to:
- provide multi-disciplinary diagnostic assessments
- connect you with the appropriate services in your community following an assessment
- offer local training and resources for qualified professionals so you can get a diagnosis faster
Contact a local diagnostic hub for an assessment.
What to expect from an autism assessment
Before the assessment
You should expect your doctor to ask a few questions about your child’s development and behaviour. Your doctor may ask:
- how often your child behaves a certain way
- when you first noticed symptoms
- when your child reaches certain developmental milestones
- your family’s medical history
- why you decided to seek help
During the assessment
During your child’s diagnostic assessment, the professional will:
- gather information from you about your child, including your child’s medical history
- observe your child
- review documents, reports and previous assessments, including information from a school or childcare provider
- use standardized professional assessment tools and criteria to determine a diagnosis, including the diagnostic criteria outlined in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5)
After the assessment
Your child’s written diagnosis must include the following information to apply for the Ontario Autism Program:
- your child’s full name and date of birth
- the date of your child’s assessment
- a statement indicating that the child meets the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder
- the qualified professional’s name and credentials
The professional may also provide the following information in your child’s diagnostic letter:
- clinic name and location
- type of diagnostic screening tool used
- additional diagnoses, if applicable
- your child’s level of ability and functioning
- recommendations for treatment or other potential next steps
This information is not required to apply to the Ontario Autism Program, though it can be helpful in planning for your child’s treatment.
If you receive a diagnostic assessment from a diagnostic hub, you will receive a report that summarizes your child’s results and includes a diagnosis.
Once your child or youth has a written diagnosis from a qualified professional, you can check their eligibility for the Ontario Autism Program and register for the program.
For further information to help support your child and family after an autism diagnosis, read Autism Speaks Canada’s 100 Day Kit for Young Children.
Diagnostic hub locations
There are five diagnostic hubs across Ontario where you can get an autism assessment for your child or youth.
Contact your local diagnostic hub to find out how to apply for a diagnostic assessment.
McMaster Children’s Hospital / Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre
237 Barton Street East
Children’s Treatment Network of Simcoe York
165 Ferris Lane
- Fax: 705-792-2775
Child and Community Resources
662 Falconbridge Road
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)/
Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre (OCTC)
395 Smyth Road
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
Child Development Intake
150 Kilgour Road