What evaluations were done and by whom? How accurate and well-performed do you think the evaluations were?
In our case, I took Jack to a regular pediatrician (who turned out to be a student!) at the Wright Patterson AFB hospital and explained very calmly what we were concerned about and what his teacher was concerned about--I thought about what I was going to say ahead of time and made sure that I was clear and concise. At this point, I had no idea that autism would be a possibility, but in retrospect, I said all the right things to get the doctor's attention. That doctor asked me to wait and brought the developmental pediatrican into the discussion that day, which I felt was extremely responsive. The developmental pediatrician, Dr. Z, said he would work Jack into his schedule as quickly as possible; he saw Jack two weeks later for an initial evaluation. It took just three months to get all the evals done: audiology, speech, occupational therapy, child psychology. At the time, Dr. Z didn't have the testing materials for the ADOS, so we went downtown to Dayton Children's, where the child psych did the ADOS and nonverbal IQ test.
I felt all the tests except the speech eval were quite thorough and well done. The speech eval was done first and every specialist who saw it (including at the public school!) rolled their eyes at it. It basically said nothing. All the other therapists and the child psychologist were extremely good at explaining the results of their evaluations. Once Jack got into treatment, his new speech therapist did a very thorough evaluation so we had a much better idea of where Jack stood.
Much of our luck came from cancellations (speech and child psych would have taken MUCH longer, but I jumped when cancellations occurred) and the fact that Dr. Z knew how to pull strings and did so on our behalf. We were getting ready to move to Abilene, TX, at the time, but the doctor said services were better in Ohio, so he and my husband signed us up for the Air Force's Exceptional Family Member Program, which ensures that families with special needs are stationed in places where those needs are met. You can read the details in my essay HERE, if you're interested. (Scroll down a bit to get to the part about Jack's diagnosis.)
Jack's final diagnosis was Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, or PDD-NOS, mildly affected. By the time the diagnosis came through, George and I were both convinced that it would be PDD-NOS anyway, so we were not surprised.
Note: The public schools did not get involved until we had a diagnosis, mainly because of the timing of summer break.