We got Ethan's diagnostic report from the child psychologist last 15th of August and he is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), highly-functional and mostly social/communication/behavioural concerns.
According to the psychologist, there have been changes to the classification around May this year so previously, he would have been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome but now, it's just classified as ASD.
We met with his paediatrician yesterday and we are now working on getting registered with ASPECT (an Australian organisation working with people with autism and ASD). We can apply for funding to support his therapy and other diagnostic/assessment needs. We need to register before he turns 6 so that we can avail of the funding, and we have up to June next year to avail of 50% of the maximum funds available. Then the remaining 50%, he can avail until he turns 7. So, this is going to be quite a busy year for us. We would like to avail of the support as much as possible and attend to Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, Formal Assessment that he needs.
Children with ASD, particularly Asperger's, do not suffer from any development delays such as in speech or mental faculties. They are classified under the autism umbrella though because they have difficulties in terms of their social/communication/behavioural skills.
With Ethan, what we noticed is that even if he is quite friendly with other kids, he cannot seem to carry on conversations with them (although I think this is improving with him getting regular interaction at school). Even with us at times, he tends to dominate the conversation, has some trouble waiting for his turn in the conversation and changing the flow anytime he wants to, like when a new topic comes into his mind. But when you are in conversation, he provides relevant comments.
He also gets distracted easily but it's also difficult to get his attention at times. When he's focused on his watching TV, reading or playing, you would need to call him several times and might even need to get near him and touch him to get his attention. Mind you, we've had his hearing checked and it's normal. Sometimes, he cannot maintain eye contact.
He doesn't exhibit those traits such as hating breaks in routine (because we do not really have a strict routine at home except for preparing for bedtime), or lining up his toys (because they are everywhere!).
What is recommended is to expose him more to social interaction with other kids so that he gets to exercise and learn the usual norms. That is one thing with Asperger's or high-functioning autism, it's usually diagnosed late (usually around school age) because you do not observe any concerns until he starts being with larger groups of children where his social awkwardness becomes obvious.
So now, we have to register to ASPECT, arrange appointments for Occupational Therapy, Formal Diagnostics, apply for carer allowance through Centerlink. This is going to be a ride, hopefully a not-very-rough one :)
All the best for Ethan! :)