Finding Help: Getting A Diagnosis

Disclaimer: This list of services is based on my own experiences.  It's not intended to be comprehensive but to give parents an idea to go.  Please let me know if any of them are no longer helpful.
Facing a diagnosis of autism can be frightening but that piece of paper opens up a huge world of help for you, your child and your family.  Unfortunately, there are lengthly delays in the publicly funded options for diagnosis but there are a number of private options for those who can afford them.

My first recommendation would be to speak to your family doctor to see if he or she has a particular recommendation.  A psychologist or a developmental pediatrician can do the assessment to see if your child qualifies for the diagnosis.  Your family doctor will also be able to refer you to the Ottawa Children's Treatment Centre, which does the publicly funded diagnosis.

Ottawa Children's Treatment Centre (OCTC):
These people are your new best friends once you suspect something is going on with your child.  There is a fair amount of complaining on the parent groups about them but they offer support without costing the families anything but time.  Even if you are getting a private diagnosis, you should register with them.  We received help from a social worker, who helped us apply for grants and programs; Infant Development Workers, who came to our home to offer support and suggestions; access to their specialized playgroups, which were a gold mine of parent support and help.  I'll always be grateful for their assistance.

Private Services:

These are two groups which I know specialize in developmental psychological assessments.  However, there is a large number of psychologists in the Ottawa area.  Your family doctor may know someone who is closer or who can see you sooner than the people I've listed below.

Emerging Minds
Disclaimer, I work for Emerging Minds, so I'm biased.  But I do think they are one of the best options available for private diagnosis here in Ottawa.  You can call them at 613-883-3716 to book appointments.

Fundamentals: Child Behaviour Solutions
Dr. Jenny DeMark does assessments for children under 12.  You can contact her at 613-222-5098.


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Page Descriptions

Dealing with Diagnosis: Parents talks about the emotional impact of diagnosis. This is a major life-changing event which can leave people feeling isolated, angry and hopeless. You’re not alone in this.

Dealing with Diagnosis: Friends and Family offers suggestions to the extended family and friends of newly diagnosed families. We all want to help and make things better but sometimes the best-intentioned gestures can end up hurting.

Dealing with Other People's Reactions warns of some of the less than positive responses you can expect and talks about the stigma of accepting the "special needs" label.

The Autism World is an explanation of how people with autism experience the world around them. The ability to guess what your child is experiencing is one of the best tools you can have in helping and teaching them.

Tips and Tricks is a collection of suggestions and ideas contributed by parents. I’m always looking for more suggestions to share. Contact me with your ideas.

Choosing Therapies and Treatment isn’t about specific types of treatment. Instead it’s about what you should be looking for in a therapist or treatment expert. Every child with autism is unique and there’s no universal treatment.

Changing Challenging Behaviours is a basic overview of the Applied Behaviour Analysis system. While I recognize that not every child works best with the intense behaviour treatment based on ABA, the system of figuring out what is behind challenging behaviours is an effective way to understand what your child is trying to tell you. Understanding is the first step to trying to change the problem.

Communication offers ideas on how you can help your child with autism to communicate. Without an ability to tell you what he or she wants, frustration quickly leads to behaviour problems.

Referrals for Families are options for families with special needs to enjoy some of the ordinary experiences in life. It lists examples of non-therapy professionals and businesses who are willing and able to adapt to autistic children.

Finding Help: There are three sections, pre-diagnosis, getting a diagnosis and post-diagnosis. It's my attempt to give you a checklist of options.

Helpful Books: A list of books that I've found to be useful, in the order I discovered them.

My Blog is where I share new information, what's working (and not) for our family. Posted daily (mostly).