Autism from a mama who has been there. I am going to try to post every day this month. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.
This is heavy stuff, let's start with the basics. Mamas are saying, I can't think about any of this right now I am just trying to get through today.
It seems it comes at different times for everyone. I say, "the earlier, the better." But, I also say, "better late than never."
I am going to start at age two because that is how old he was when we started.
My son was screened by our local elementary school, we lived on an Air Force Base at the time. We were referred to a child psychologist for further evaluation. It took time to get the diagnosis.
There are an amazing amount of resources online for you to study to help you recognize the signs that your child may be on the spectrum. A missed milestone is an excellent reason to raise this concern with your pediatrician. Most schools offer screenings for developmental delays which can lead you the proper diagnosis.
Early intervention was new, and there were a lot of experimental programs going on 25 years ago. (And we tried them all!) Some have stood the test of time because they worked, and others have gone the way of the dinosaur. Groups come and go too. The only constant is change. Be flexible.
Be willing to try something new if it makes sense to you. Keep what works, throw out what doesn't. And what works for one may not work for another. I can only attest to what worked for us.
Celebrate the small stuff. Be flexible. Laugh.