Isabell Gibb, who is in charge of the challenging behaviour unit at Clippens school in Linwood, told the Scottish Society for Autistic Children in Edinburgh that if parents are not offered a diagnosis, they fear the worst.
Mrs Gibb, who has a child with autism, said that the parents' need was not always appreciated. "The biggest mistake is not to realise the impact on the parent of using the wrong words at the wrong time," she said. If there was not a partnership, parents and professionals "would be participating in a two-way communication disorder".
Linda Jenkins, whose son has Asperger syndrome, said that when she explored the possibility of his living independently "no one knew if it would work". Mrs Jenkins, Asperger syndrome support co-ordinator in Fife, said that although supported employment had been relatively simple to arrange, local authority delays in finding appropriate accommodation were "stressful".
She added: "We need an understanding of how he was affected by autism and a respect for as much right to independence as he is capable of."