The Mighty Logo

18 Months and Still Waiting for My Son's Autism Diagnosis

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

When we first saw Sonny’s pediatrician, we were told the waiting list for an autism diagnosis was roughly one year.

One whole year? In the grand scheme of things, that’s not too bad.

A year went by and we were told the waiting list was roughly 12 to 18 months long. We should have a formal diagnosis for Sonny by the time he finishes Reception or the start of Year 1 at the very latest.

Eighteen months in and we are still without a date for a diagnosis. It’s quite hard to describe just how agonizing the wait is.

Picture the scene:

You’re stuck in the middle of the ocean, no boat and no oars. There’s nothing around you to hold on to, there’s no one to guide you and there’s nothing in the distance signposting help nearby.

You swim in one direction hoping that this might be the route that takes you to land. You got it wrong. There’s nothing but ocean every which way you turn and when you’re not swimming, you’re treading water. All your energy spent trying to keep your head above the surface.

You’ve been swimming for so long and you’re tired.



Your body aches to the bone and you feel hopeless and helpless and completely alone in your journey. Then something amazing happens, just what you’ve been waiting for. You find a little boat. You sit in your little boat and look back on how long you have struggled. Don’t dwell now! You’ve just been given a glimmer of hope and all you need now is your paddles.

Getting a date for Sonny’s autism assessment was a huge relief. It was like climbing aboard my own little boat. Exhausted, but I finally felt like we were getting somewhere.

Yet life has this habit of throwing me that curveball and I catch it every damn time.

Over 18 months of waiting for Sonny’s assessment and then the morning of the appointment they call: “Hello, is this Sonny’s mum? I’m very sorry, I’m afraid your appointment this afternoon at CDAC was booked in error. Unfortunately, the person you need to see is on annual leave. I will call them tomorrow and make sure you’re booked in for the next available appointment.”

I could have cried. So much preparation went into today, reports to gather, arrangements to be made. So much was riding on an autism diagnosis.

I’ve been swimming for so long!

With our plans changed, we had a peaceful day at home instead. Zachary counted the pennies in our tin and we had just enough for an ice cream from Franco, (the ice cream man who so happens to stop outside our front door, I’m never sure if this is a good or a bad thing!)

We sat on the front door step and waited for Franco’s ice cream van to arrive. The sun was shining, it warmed my skin and my smile. For the first time since I got that phone call this morning, I felt like I could breathe.

I’m not giving up now, not ever.

I’m sitting firmly in my boat and I’m ready to chase up another appointment tomorrow.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Originally published: December 19, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home