Could my son be autistic?

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My son is six years old. If you’d asked me before if he had any traits of Autism, I’d have said no – he has lots of eye contact, you can tell if he’s sad or happy, has great emotional awareness but he’s totally fixated on cars and is very stubborn and I wondered if we should investigate this further, to make sure his medical practitioners and his school are aware that he might be on a spectrum of Autism.

You’re right that autism is a spectrum and a behavioural syndrome. It’s defined and assessed through understanding a pattern of child behaviour through development. We know that those patterns of behaviour tend to cooccur together over development and be quite persistent. Some children do have some bits of it and not others as it were but on the other hand there are also other reasons why a child might be interested in cars or might be struggling. So, you shouldn’t inevitably assume that one little bit of the collection of symptoms actually means it’s part of autism. Generally, in child behaviour, there are lots of different causes for a fairly limited range of behavioural presentations – there are lots of different causes so that’s where you need someone to make an assessment.

Question asked and answered at our family’s day 2016