When a child is flagged for autism, the parents' reaction usually falls under one of two categories:
1) "I always knew something was wrong." These parents are panicked and want a diagnosis ASAP.
2) "What????" These parents are caught totally off guard. They just want to know if their child is actually autistic, a seemingly modest goal.
This post is for parents in the second category. If you just want to know if your child is autistic, learn from my research and my mistakes:
a) Don't accept the opinion of an administrator, early intervention or any semi-professional.
b) Seek out a developmental pediatrician. If you live in the sticks, and there are none near you, fly or drive to your closest metropolis.
c) If you get an appointment with a developmental pediatrician, by all means, make sure it's for a FORMAL EVALUATION. Brad's first evaluation was informal; it lasted one hour and did not involve a formal test, e.g. ADOS or CARS. I got the appointment without a wait; literally, she saw Brad the first business day after I called her office. His second opinion, which I blogged about here, was the real deal, and left me feeling confident in the diagnosis. A formal evaluation may take months to obtain, but it's worth the wait.
Feel free to share your stories below, and leave additional tips for parents seeking an evaluation.