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Right from the Start toolkit
Ian Sutton

Early years
Monday 13 January 2020

Our new guide for supporting autistic children in the early years

For parents of young children who are developing differently – it’s even more important to have access to knowledge that will support their child’s crucial early development.

Sadly, for many parents of autistic children we know that the wait for answers and for access to help is far too long.  We’ve carried out extensive research into parents’ experiences of supporting their children in the early years and our findings suggest many are struggling with stress, delay and isolation. 

Nearly half (46%) of the parents we surveyed waited longer than 18 months for a formal diagnosis. In some cases, parents reported waiting over 3 years. Meanwhile, over 70% say the support they received post diagnosis wasn’t good enough.

Parents told us the autism diagnosis process was difficult to navigate, stressful and led to tensions and difficulties within their families. They also said they found it hard to involve their children in activities most take for granted – such as attending playgroup or taking part in music and dance sessions. 

As the national charity for children and young people with autism, we wanted to create a resource to help these families and tackle each of the problems our research brought to light. 

Our new Right from the Start toolkit has been developed in direct response to these issues and we hope it will be a valuable new asset for families as they navigate their journeys. 


Guide to autism in the early years 

The Right from the Start toolkit is a totally free, online guide for parents that can be downloaded from our website. It has been created to support parents of children aged 0-5 at every stage of their journey.

The guide has been developed to address pressing issues where parents tell us they want more guidance and support. From understanding and recording their child’s developmental milestones, to comprehensive information about the diagnosis process – the toolkit covers a range of useful topics aimed at answering common questions and providing help.  

As well as advice on supporting children’s own communication and play skills, it also provides tips on how to involve the whole family in the autism journey. The toolkit also contains practical guidance on the types of funding available and the support that local councils and health services can provide. 


Our hope 

Every child with autism is different and so is every family’s journey. However, we know that too often this journey can be long, difficult and can feel very lonely. We hope our Right from the Start toolkit helps parents and carers feel less alone and unsupported. In fact, we want the information and advice in the toolkit to empower them – giving them the knowledge and confidence to advocate for their children and ensure they get the support they are entitled to. 

Early intervention and support creates the best possible outcomes for children and young people with autism. We hope this guide helps parents ensure their children have the best start in life and an equal chance to learn, thrive and be happy. 

Download the free Right from the Start toolkit.


About the author

Ian Sutton is Programme Manager for Right from the Start.