educators assuming autism in children

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educators assuming autism in children

Post by libby3722 » Wed Dec 22, 2021 11:38 am

I need some help in finding guidelines on what we can and cannot do in relation to suspected learning disabilities and behavioural issues such as ADHD and ASD.
I have been appointed educational leader for 2022 and I also run the 3-5yr old room as well as 3yo kinder program. within my room, I have 1 child who is diagnosed ASD and he is also diagnosed with a very rare chromosome disorder, he is the only one in the world missing this particular half of one chromosome.

The issue I have is one of our educators who has worked within the service for over 10 years is every day claiming that majority of our children are on the spectrum. any child who may have speech issues, attachment issues, anxiety etc she states very clearly and firmly that they are on the spectrum, at this rate it would mean that 32 of the 48 children enrolled within my room would be ASD. she has gone so far as to confront many parents about it as well without discussion between room leaders or management. She is upsetting a lot of families and the children are being treated differently despite not having the grounds for these narratives or any observations to back her claims. Some of these children have in fact undergone the process of diagnosis and the doctors have all agreed they are not ASD they simply need speech therapy or a behaviour plan.
Now during my study, I was always told we could take observations on learning and behaviours as well as social engagements and collect them over a period of time to then present to the parent who is then pointed in the right direction for extra assistance. I Was always told that it is not our job to diagnose these children and we are not to call them autistic or treat them as if they are unless there is a formal diagnosis or the parents have been met with and a learning/behaviour plan has been discussed and our support offered.

What I need is the evidence to support what I'm saying, that we cant call children autistic before a diagnosis, that we cant put them in a disability category until that process has been undertaken and that we are only to observe and analyse behaviour to pass onto the medical professionals who can diagnose.

i have googled everything and looked at the regs and I cannot find the right wording. if anyone has anything they can offer to assist that would be great!

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Re: educators assuming autism in children

Post by Lorina » Thu Dec 23, 2021 6:09 pm


I completely agree with you. Just because a child may have an issue doesn't mean they are on the spectrum! This is ridiculous to assume this and it's a huge problem if this particular educator is confronting parents and worrying them.

We should not diagnose children, we are not in a position to do so, yes we provide the observations, the learning and the documentation but it's not our responsibility to say to a parent "your child has autism". This just frustrates me to no end that this is happening at your service and I can only imagine what you are feeling dealing with this.

I think you need to make it very clear to this Educator or all Educators that they should not be approaching parents with concerns of particular diagnosis at all. It is the responsibility of the room leaders and the director to have a meetings with the families to discuss any concerns regarding to diagnosis.

I think you should also maybe include this point in the Communication with Families policy as well. It needs to be very clear and Educators must adhere to it. It's a serious issue.

I will go through my resources to see if I can find any relevant information for you as well.

Has the Director spoken to this Educator?


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Re: educators assuming autism in children

Post by Bensos » Sun Jan 30, 2022 1:31 pm

Ok - so im approaching this with a few hats on.

Im our centre lead educator and inclusion support worker, Ive undertaken additional training with the Melbourne Childrens Hospital for eABLES, and had mentoring and training workshops around trauma, ADD, PTSD and children and Sensory support. My youngest child is diagnosed as level 2 Austistic with a partial chromosome D deletion (primarily physical impacts and only ever found present in children with Autism).

Diagnosing children with any kind of spectrum disorder so young is difficult. Even with his full genetic profile and a series of psychological assessments and ticking every physical assessment checkbox it took two years and a partial diagnosis before we could get a full one for our child. Getting that diagnosis was HARD (and I say this on a very personal human level - not as an educator) Because you are essentially asking a bunch of strangers to examine your child quite intimately. You are asking for proof your child isnt perfect and its a big emotional hump to ger past. A lot of parents dont like this (which is human - and normal), some will actively avoid it.

Ive had a lot of practical experience of eductors saying child A or B is clearly "autistic" because they wont concentrate, they are noisy, they wont share etc etc. Im quite happy to correct any educators I work with who are making these assumptions because they are equating neurodiversity with something bad. It means we all see and experience the world differently. My son says that sometimes it feels like the volume and colour gets turned down (like on a TV). He has to run and shout etc because having his heart beat fast for a bit "fixes it". Best i can explain is that its like those magic eye pictures - some people get them, some people dont, some people see the cat riding a bike really quickly for others it takes work for some its just a bunch of squiggles and were wasting out time.

Autism, Aspergers & ADD are all spectrum disorders - and what looks like it might be a trait or neurodiversity can just as easily be attributed to the childs home environment, response to a trigger from another child or a part of the physical environment. I have a child in my care that has really big reactions to being asked to share or wait his turn because he genuinely never gets it at home - his parents dont believe in discipline or accountability. He isnt autistic, doesnt have ADD - his behaviour is how he responds to conflict or resistance because that is what works at home.

ACECQA has a developmental milestones document - listing appropriate/expected developmental milestones by age and some prompts for when to seek advice if something is concerning. Just google ACECQA developmental milestones and the whole PDF will come up for you. These are a good starting point for looking at how a child is actually developing in a range of ways. Based upon this checklist (from a government resource backed up by research) you could make notes and suggest that they consider mentioning some of the issues to their maternal health nurse at the next appointment.

The eABLES system is also a very good tool. Its a big long list of multiple choice questions accross a range of areas (social development, physical development etc) and is utilised by the department of education. It doesnt diagnose anything but gives you a useful set of goals for the child - which group of skills need more support, and also the outcomes we are looking for and some suggested activities. You can add all of this in to your educational plan for the whole group. For older children this very helpfully links in to their department of education information for primary school. You do the assessments every 6 months and will see the progression as it happens :-) You will also be surprised at how advanced some children really are when we step back and think more objectively. Sometimes we all implicitly just end up not seeing some things or thinking about certain learning aspects for some children.

When your colleague makes these comments - call her out. She isnt qualified to make any sort of diagnosis - and her attitude indicates she considers some children "less than" . Perhaps she is diagnosing them so she doesnt have to engage in actively finding activities and resources to support the children? Whatever it is - children hear her - they hear her attitude and it will be reflected in how they treat people. Consider making more information resources available to families? pamphlets from local groups or organisations - speech therapists/OTs/Play therapists etc. I incorporate therapy proprioceptive play, sensory stimulation activities and sensory calming resources for all children and accross the board ithas benefitted their ability to self regulate and become more independent. Make support and therapy part of your community language - we dont single children out we lift them up and help them achieve.

With much love for asking a difficult question - high fives to you!

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Re: educators assuming autism in children

Post by Nandy84 » Tue May 24, 2022 4:09 pm


I also completely agree with you that if some children are having delays in some developmental milestones or if some children are a little bit hard to handle, do not indicate at all that he/she is in the said spectrum. Above the spectrum and related things are described in a very nice way.

I think you have to be very firm while communicating that there should be a communication policy before talking to the families of children. It is completely unnecessary to bother the families by saying that the educator is guessing that some children are in the spectrum.

I also think you need to have clear communication with the particular educator and the below link may help you to make the educator understand that every minor issue are not related to ADHD ... rder_ADHD/ ... eractivity.

Thank you


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