Parents are able to detect if their child has autism at about 2 or 3 years old.

It might be that they don't coo or babble away when they're an infant, or that they can't string a couple of words together at age 2.

Despite this ability to pick up signs of autism spectrum disorder early, children are often not diagnosed until after they've begun school in New Zealand. For girls, the wait is likely to be even longer.

"It is really late," says child and adolescent psychiatrist Hiran Thabrew. "You really want to pick these kids up before school


'It is half their life'


More waiting

'Children used to play in trees'

'It can be dreadful'