Australian parents are struggling to get a diagnosis for their children with autism and are left feeling ignored by medical professionals, new research shows.
A University of South Australia study released on Monday reviewed 22 international papers on the condition, finding parents often face lengthy delays getting a diagnosis, or unsatisfactory alternative explanations.
Researcher Kobie Boshoff said medical professionals need to take seriously parents seeking a diagnosis for their children.
One in 70 Australians are estimated to be on the autism spectrum, with autism spectrum disorder leading to developmental difficulties and problems with social behaviour or communication skills.
While symptoms can range from mild to severe, autism can be detected in early childhood.
The report said the diagnosis process was "intensely emotional" for parents and a more family-focused approach to build trust between doctors and parents was needed.
Dr Boshoff said medicos needed to reassess the way they engaged with parents, with better experiences in the early stages of diagnosis meaning better outcomes for kids
"[Parents] said they felt confused, stressed and frustrated at the lack of support and understanding," Dr Boshoff said.
The paper pointed to the different variations in diagnosing autism spectrum disorder in different states and territories.
It also found ethnic background and parents living in rural areas presented challenges.
Dr Boshoff said doctors and service providers needed to ensure emotional support for parents.
The number of autism spectrum disorders had also increased by 40 per cent since 2015, when the number of people with autism was estimated to be one in 100.
Internationally, diagnosis rates show one in 59 children are on the autism spectrum.
Australian Associated Press